Kampala – 17 June 2021, RUFORUM a network of 129 universities in 38 countries has been designated as a Champion to mobilize a diverse range of people in every region of the world to engage more deeply and develop into a broad and inclusive coalition for transformation of the world’s food systems through coordinated action before, during, and after the United Nations Food Systems Summit in October 2021. It is against this background that the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) convened a virtual meeting of Selected Advocates for Africa’s Developmentto discussthe UN Food Systems Summit Dialogue 2021 under the theme “Transforming food systems is crucial for delivering all the Sustainable Development Goals”. In this meeting, the Advocates for Africa’s Development endorsed the Africa Ministers joint actions to strengthen food systems in the continent that include inter-alia actions to Building Africa’s Science, Technology and Innovation Capacity, Increasing investment in research, Joint Actions to respond to emerging challenges such as climate change and environmental degradation, Building Foresight capacity, and Strengthening partnerships for economies of scale, scope and inclusive development.
The Selected Advocates for Africa’s Development highlighted that universities have a strong role and that without them agri-food systems development will be greatly compromised. They further articulated the need for required frameworks to ensure that science, technology and innovation inform agri-food systems development in Africa and that What is lacking is the political will to invest in the systems that support national food systems to make them more resilient, sustainable and more productive. They agreed that;
- Effort should be made to promote and facilitate policy analysis of institutional environment necessary to boost productivity, promote market access, create wealth and improve livelihoods. African institutions should always gain access to evidence-based policy information for informed decision-making and improved broad-based inter and intra-regional market performance and the policy environment should assure activities and services across the entire spectrum of the food system function to accelerate progress towards SDG 2 (zero hunger).
- Making agriculture attractive to the youth is key to ensure the sustainability of the agricultural sector and strengthening the capacities of the smallholder producers and SMEs is a key element to generate effective demand for science, technology, and innovation.
- African Governments and Partners need to strengthen Africa’s research capacity to generate technologies and innovations, and to build capacity to respond to agri-food systems opportunities that the continent is well endowed with and to respond to emerging challenges.
- There should be deliberate effort to harness Africa’s indigenous knowledge and incorporate it in science advancement
- African Governments to establish a ‘Higher Education Fund for Africa-HEFA) to support staff development and increase the pool of women scientists in African Universities and Research Institutions
- Increasing access to education and promoting inclusivity will be central to making progress towards achieving the SDGs targets and Agenda 2063.
Africans leaders should then provide innovative high-impact ways of addressing these issues through scientific cooperationby taking advantage of the strengths, addressing the weaknesses, seizing the opportunities and dealing with the threats.
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