I first wish to commend Secretary-General Guterres and Prime Minister Draghi for convening this Pre-Summit.

The care that has been invested in preparing for the United Nations Food Systems Summit in September, engaging thousands of stakeholders, reflects the urgency of transforming the world’s food systems.

Agriculture and agri-business, especially in Africa, will drive our attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. This is especially true as we work to make up for the time lost to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Each country and region must chart its own pathway to transformation, but this is also a global challenge that we must address together.

In Africa, 70% of the working-age population is employed in the agricultural sector. But our continent’s food markets are often fragmented, and links to food processing and value addition services are sometimes lacking.

Digital technologies and biotechnology are playing a greater role in African agriculture, but too many farmers do not yet have reliable access. Financial services and products for farmers, including insurance, are generally inadequate.

As a result, Africa’s food producers do not earn the level of income that they deserve, and they must cope with high levels of economic risk and uncertainty.

Transformation is a necessity.

This is why the African Union Development Agency, NEPAD, has worked to facilitate an African Common Position in advance of the Food Systems Summit, in line with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the SDGs.

Africa will pursue solutions in the following priority tracks:

  • One, adopt nutritious food policies, establish food reserves, and expand school feeding programs.
  • Two, support local markets and food supply chains, invest in agro-processing for healthy foods and expand trade in food products within Africa.
  • Three, work to increase agricultural financing to 10% of public expenditure, with a focus on research, innovation, and environmental sustainability.
  • Four, facilitate smallholder farmers, encourage cooperatives, and ensure women’s access to productive resources.
  • And five, expand social safety net programs and invest in climate early warning data systems.

Accountability for advancing these actions will be integrated into existing continental monitoring mechanisms, including regular reviews under the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program (CAADP).

At the Food Systems Summit in September, we will begin to roll out new solutions based on this African Common Position and commit to greater investment in programs that are proven to work.

For Africa, the central goal is to halt our continent’s over-reliance on food imports, end malnutrition, and create millions of new jobs in the food economy. In doing so, we will strike the right balance between people and planet.

The political commitment generated today is essential for solidifying the global partnerships needed to sustain the success of this historic process.

I wish you productive deliberations this week, as we work together closely to deliver real results at the Summit in September, and beyond.

I thank you so much for your kind attention.