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COVID-19 will lead Africa into food security crisis- AGRA

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Alliance for Green Revolution Africa, AGRA, has warned that the COVID-19 pandemic will lead Africa into a food security crisis that will affect the political, social and economic health of African countries.

According to the Alliance, already over 250 million people in Africa are without food and this is expected to worsen considering projections from the United Nations that Africa’s GDP growth will reduce from 3.2 to 1.8 percent.

In a message, President of AGRA, Dr. Agnes Kalibata said if smallholder farmers who produce 80 percent of food for the continent cannot farm, then Africa is heading for a food security crises.

The Alliance said as health workers battle to slow down the spread of the disease, all measures must be taken to ensure that people have food now, in the recovery period and beyond. AGRA said if this is not done, COVID-19 will result in a food crisis that will affect poor people the most, in both rural and urban areas.

It said the lack of food access to food on the continent is worsened by the fact that Africa imports significant amounts of food, depend on smallholder-led and rain-fed agriculture and are in the midst of already existing shocks from climate change and locust invasions.

It said the only obvious choice to protect the interests and well-being of the most vulnerable on the continent is by ensuring farmers continue to do their work.

The statement commended Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia who have already developed guidelines to keep the agricultural value chain alive even as they abide by public health guidelines. It specifically mentions Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture for securing inputs, seeds and fertilizers, for farmers through the government flagship ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ program.

It said the government is also supporting rice millers with working capital so they can continue purchasing rice from farmers.

While commending these initiatives, AGRA said it is the collective responsibility of all governments to scale up such initiatives across the continent.

It said AGRA is committed to working with partners and governments to support farmers, most of whom are women and youth; to plant, harvest, transport, and sell food without endangering their safety and that of others.

It asked governments to ensure that village-based agro dealers’ shops stay open to enable farmers access inputs at affordable prices despite the periods of lock downs announced in most African countries.

According to AGRA, in the long-term, COVID-19 pandemic underscores the need for Africa to focus on agriculture transformation as its surest path to inclusive economic growth to build the resilience of its population.

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