Inadequacy and fragility of food systems becomes more apparent with every food crisis. The question we must answer is “Where do we go from here?”. Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA, discusses these issues and more.
As President of AGRA, Dr. Agnes Kalibata leads the organization’s efforts with public and private partners to ensure a food secure and prosperous Africa through rapid, sustainable agricultural growth, improving the productivity and livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers. Prior to joining AGRA in September 2014, Dr. Kalibata was Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI).
The food price crisis of 2007 to 2008, Covid-19, the Russian war against Ukraine, and climate change have exposed the fragility of food systems. The greatest risk lies in refusing to learn from lessons of the past.
At the start of 2022, we were already facing the prospect of a food crisis. Even before the first Russian tank rolled across Ukraine’s borders on 24 February, food prices had tipped record highs as the world struggled to recover from Covid-19 to repair disrupted supply chains and soaring fuel and gas prices. But a conflict involving two of the world’s largest wheat exporters, and major producers of fertilizer, maize and vegetable oil, have inevitably driven prices even higher and, once again, pushed the issue of global food security into sharp focus.
Russia and Ukraine together account for roughly 30 per cent of the world’s wheat and barley exports, a fifth of its corn trade and almost 80 per cent of sunflower oil exports. Most of their wheat production is imported by countries in the Middle East and Africa, with some 50 countries depending on Russia and Ukraine. Warfare and port blockades have reduced these exports, and supply uncertainties have already pushed wheat prices to around $11 per bushel, a level last seen in 2008. The FAO food price index soared to a record high in June.
The situation is further compounded by rising energy prices, and disruptions to the supply of fertilisers, the prices of which are already fluctuating at levels unseen since the global financial crisis because of higher gas prices. Russia and Belarus produce more than a third of global potash. Russia is also the world’s biggest exporter of fertilizers and the war with Ukraine has disrupted the export of fertilizers and driven up prices for natural gas, which is an important ingredient of nitrogen-based fertilizers. Fertilizer prices (DAP) are surging towards 1000 USD per ton, with a significant increase in the last 6 months, and a 40% jump since the invasion. This will hurt rich and poor farmers alike, due to the clear link between rising costs and reduced production.
The US-based Center for Global Development estimates that higher food and fuel prices will push 40 million more people into extreme poverty.
Lower income households, who were already spending between 60 and 80 per cent of their earnings on food, face stark choices, including how many meals to eat in a day.
In Tunisia, the fear of food shortages combined with the imminent arrival of Ramadan, caused panic buying and emptied supermarket shelves. Kenyans are protesting rising food prices on social media with the hashtag #lowerfoodprices. Thousands of maize farmers in Ethiopia have been protesting soaring fertilizer prices. And let’s not forget that it was rising food prices that led to the 2019 Sudan coup and the Arab Spring rebellion of 2008.
The food crisis of 2007-8 suggests important lessons for us to mitigate a food crisis this year. First, remember that cooperation between countries matters, sending important signals to markets that governments and the private sector take the problem seriously. Second, take concerted action to trade more, easier, faster. Allow food to be traded and attack non-tariff barriers that are the most serious limitations to trade. Africa has shown leadership in the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area – these principles must be fast tracked to allow as friction-free trading system as possible. Third, governments and development partners should urgently plan for the social and humanitarian consequences of a food crisis. Social safety nets should be strengthened at least temporarily, and humanitarian aid planned for the most vulnerable. Last and perhaps most importantly, governments and partners must go back to basics: that African economies and livelihoods are built on agriculture. More than 70 per cent of the population is involved in farming, but the vast majority of these are smallholdings with significant exposure to environmental and economic shocks. These farmers and their contributions can be transformed by shorter value chains that share some of the value with farmers, a digital revolution that puts farmers, and strong government agenda and support.
African farmers, if given the opportunities that their European, Asian and North American counterparts have, can increase massively their productivity and grow their businesses.
An emergency plan to build support for farmers now can send important signals to markets and increase production this year. Give farmers access to productive, climate smart seeds, the knowledge they need to become more productive, and innovative financial tools to invest. Then help them get their products to market. Proven models are already used by many partners – millions of farmers can be lifted quickly in this way.
At the same time, soaring fertilizer prices must be addressed with urgent action to increase efficiency. AGRA has promoted technologies that can reduce cost to the farmer including the use of blended fertilizers, as we already see in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. The same is true in the use of micro-dosing. Both give much more ‘bang for the buck’ and can be much more environmentally friendly. This is also an opportunity to promote greater use of farmers’ traditional practices of regeneration and organic fertilization.
This is the time for African governments to give a strong signal of support to the agriculture sector. Start by reducing redundant regulation, and support SMEs and farmers’ cooperatives with credit guarantee programmes.
We learned from the last food crisis that we should not be afraid of a food crisis. What we should be worried about is lack of action once we understand the problem. Governments should lead and coordinate, private sector should target investment on proven solutions, and unlock African farmers’ potential.
The United Nations plan a Food Systems Summit - and now the Corona-Virus is dictating the agenda. The Chief Economist of the UN World Food Programme takes stock of the current situation: a conversation with Jan Rübel about pandemics, about the chromosomes of development - and about the conflicts that inhibit them.
African countries still face huge gender gaps in terms of access to work and capital. What are the consequences of Corona for women in Africa? Jan Rübel interviewed Léa Rouanet on lockdowns and gender-based violence. The economist works at the Africa Gender Innovation Lab of the World Bank.
Every year in October, the "Welthungerhilfe" aid organisation, with the Irish "Concern Worldwide" NGO, publishes the Global Hunger Index, a tool with which the hunger situation is recorded. What are the trends - and what needs to be done?
Shortly before ending his position as Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPR) Dr. Shenggen Fan talks about the reforms and new modes of operation needed to achieve global food security in the coming decade.
Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Podcast of the Federal Government
At the start of World Food Week around World Food Day on 16 October, Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that the fight against global hunger will only be successful with international responsibility and solidarity (german only).
Over a period of two years, the Ceres2030 team spent researching answers to the questions of how much it will how much it will cost to realize SDG 2 and where that money should be spent most effectively. IISD Senior Advisor and Ceres2030 Co-director Carin Smaller about small farmers, machine learning and women empowerment.
The CGIAR agricultural research organization is systematically repositioning itself. We spoke with Juergen Voegele, Vice President for Sustainable Development at the World Bank, about progress to date - and discuss what needs to be done collectively to stop global hunger in ten years.
The first Climate Adaptation Summit put climate adaptation at the center of politics for the first time. The virtual meeting united global players with one goal: building resilience is just as important as climate protection itself. Around 15,000 participants discussed direct proposals.
110 speakers from 120 countries met virtually at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) to discuss the challenges to global food supply. They asked the question: How can food systems support the health of people and the planet?
International agricultural research is responding to new challenges: Their advisory group is undergoing a fundamental reform process and unites knowledge, partnerships and physical assets into OneCGIAR.
From the lab to the masses: Maria Andrade bred varieties of biofortified sweet potatoes which are now widely used all over the continent. She sets her hope on the transformation of African agriculture.
The lockdown due to COVID-19 hit the economy hard - including agriculture in particular with its supply chains and sales markets. What creative coping strategies have those affected found? The Seminar for Rural Development has begun a research study on th
African inland fisheries are increasingly reliant on the capture of small fish species that are sundried and traded over long distances. They make an important contribution in alleviating “hidden hunger”: consumed whole, small fish are an important source of micronutrients. Only that, unfortunately, politicians haven’t yet realised this.
A contribution by Jes Weigelt and Alexander Müller
What is required to make food systems provide sufficient, healthy food while not harming the planet? How should food security be maintained given the threat posed by climate change? Our authors look at some aspects of tomorrow’s food systems against the backdrop of the corona crisis.
Freshwater deficits are affecting more and more people throughout the world. In order to counter this, our global food system will have to change, our author maintains. A case for more research on alternative crops and smart water solutions.
Lack of seasonal workers and virus explosion in slaughterhouses, rising vegetable prices, climate crisis – all this demonstrates: Our food system is highly productive and (at least for the rich inhabitants of planet earth) guarantees an unprecedented rich and steady food supply - but it is not resilient.
A contribution by Kerstin Weber and Brit Reichelt-Zolho (WWF)
Biodiversity and sustainable agriculture ensure the nutrition of whole societies. But there is more: These two factors also provide better protection against the outbreak of dangerous pandemics. Hence, the question of preserving ecosystems is becoming a global survival issue.
There is a clear global task: We need to feed nine billion people by 2050. We, the people of Earth, must produce more food and waste less. That is the top priority of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), too - the description of a challenge.
At the beginning of December 2018, AGRA's board of directors met in Berlin. The "Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa" panel discussed the next steps in their policy of modernizing agriculture. How to go on in the next ten years? One question - many answers from experts.
Double interview with Tony Rinaudo and Volker Schlöndorff
Tony Rinaudo uses conventional reforestation methods to plant millions and millions of trees – and Volker Schlöndorff is filming a cinema documentary about the Australian. The outcome so far: An educational film on behalf of the BMZ (Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development).
Joe DeVries is a breeder – and Vice President of AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa). What are the chances and risks of a ’green revolution‘ in Africa? A discourse between Jan Rübel and him about productivity, needs, and paternalism.
If there is a lack of fertile soil and rain, hunger breaks out quickly. Maria Smentek from the World Food Programme (WFP) explains how farmers and pastoralists can counter climate change with hydroponic-systems.
Urban gardening is becoming increasingly popular in northern metropoles. People who consider themselves part of a green movement are establishing productive gardens in the city, for example on rooftops or in vacant lots. In severely impoverished regions of the global South, urban agriculture is a component of the food strategy.
Supporting groups of smallholding women substantially contributes to strengthen rural operations economically. The organisation and associated group activities can help to reduce extreme poverty and improve the food situation.
Chancellor Merkel has begun an ambitious European political programme: Striving for compromise in budget negotiations, an orderly Brexit as well as an appropriate response to the corona crisis. Unfortunately, one of her positions that she previously held is nowhere to be found: Africa's prosperity is in the interest of Europe.
The majority of producers in developing countries are women. Although they contribute significantly to the food security of their families, they remain chronically disadvantaged in male-dominated agriculture in terms of access to land, credit, technology and education.
A contribution by Nadine Babatounde and Anne Floquet (MISEREOR)
To prevent malnutrition among young children and strengthen the role of women in their communities, Misereor, together with the local non-governmental organisation CEBEDES, is implementing a programme on integrated home gardens in Benin - a series of pictures.
The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) was launched by the G20 countries in 2010 in response to the 2008-09 food price crisis to increase both public and private investment in agriculture. An overview of the programme's approach, results and impact.
Even though COVID-19 poses a threat to the health of humanity, the reaction to the pandemic must not cause more suffering than the disease itself. This is particularly relevant for poor developing countries, where the impact of the corona crisis on food security is even more severe!
In most African countries, the infection COVID-19 is likely to trigger a combined health and food crisis. This means: In order to cope with this unprecedented crisis, consistently aligning our policies to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is more important than ever, our author maintains.
COVID-19 has unprecedented effects on the world. As always, the most vulnerable are the hardest hit, both at home and - especially - abroad. A joint appeal by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) and the Department for International Development (DFID).
The region of Sub-Saharan Africa is on the decisive verge of a great development boost in farming: it could skip entire generations of technological development. But how? About possible roles and potentials of digital services.
A contritbution by Essa Chanie Mussa (University of Gondar)
Rural youth need viable livelihood opportunities to escape out of poverty and realize their aspirations. How could they be helped to fully unleash their potential? This is an aloud call that needs novel strategies among governments, policy makers, and international development partners and donors.
A report by Bettina Rudloff and Annette Weber (SWP)
The Corona-Virus exacerbates existing crises through conflict, climate, hunger and locusts in East Africa and the Horn of Africa. What needs to be done in these regions? To face these challenges for many countries, all of these crises need to be captured in their regional context.
A report by Alexander Müller and Jes Weigelt (TMG)
As the climate changes, the population of Africa is growing and fertile land and jobs are becoming scarcer. New ways are currently leading to urbanisation of agriculture and a new mid-sized sector in the countryside
Nutrition experts from all over the world are coming together in Rome. They are not only distilling 2000 ideas to improve food systems - they are also preparing for the big UN summit in New York in September. An interview.
Journalist Jan Rübel spoke with Joao Campari ahead of the UNFSS Pre-Summit. The Chair of Action Track 3 highlights key challenges in transforming existing food systems towards sustainable production and shares his expectations for the Summit.
A contribution by Dr. Karin Gaesing and Prof. Dr. Frank Bliss (INEF)
Especially in densely populated areas, land pressure leads to overexploitation of available land and a lack of conservation measures. The West African country of Benin, with heavily depleted soils in many places, is no exception.
Interview with Paul Newnham, Director of the SDG 2 Advocacy Hub.
The UN Food Systems pre-Summit in Rome dealt with transforming the ways of our nutrition. How do you bring that to a broad public? Questions to Paul Newnham, the Director of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 Advocacy Hub.
An Interview with Francisco Marí (Brot für die Welt)
Brot für die Welt (Bread for the World) did not attend the UNFSS pre-summit. Instead, the organisation took part in a counter-summit that took place at the same time. A conversation with Francisco Marí about the reasons, the process - and an outlook for the future
Interview with Martina Fleckenstein (WWF), Michael Kühn (WHH) and Christel Weller-Molongua (GIZ)
After the summit means pre-summit: It was the first time that the United Nations held a summit on food systems. Martina Fleckenstein, Michael Kühn and Christel Weller-Molongua reviewed the situation in this joint interview.
Vitamin-poor nutrition must become more expensive, in-vitro meat is not a panacea, and agricultural systems should be more decentralised. Bioland President Jan Plagge in an interview about the challenge of (future) world nutrition.
Genetically modified bacteria become edible proteins, cows graze on pasture, and no waste is produced in an industrial circular economy. Journalist Jan Grossarth sees a silver lining for the future of world nutrition
A Contribution by Emile Frison and Nick Jacobs (IPES-Food)
While having failed to solve the hunger problem, industrial agriculture appears to be causing additional ones both in environmental and health terms. Emile Frison and Nick Jacobs call for a transformation.
Fish is important for combating malnutrition and undernourishment. But it is not only notable for its nutritional value, but also secures the livelihoods and employment for 600 million people worldwide.
Three quarters of the world's population do not have secure land rights, which hinders investment and innovation. The project "Improvement of Livelihood and Food Security" supports smallholder farmers in acquiring land.
The G7 is responding to the worsening global hunger crisis by mobilizing an additional $4.5 billion for this year alone. A key milestone for this in the run-up was the international conference on global food security "Uniting for Global Food Security".
Healthy, productive soils are a prerequisite for global food security – one of the priorities of German development cooperation. State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth on Germany’s efforts to support sustainable land management and why the VGGT are more important than ever today.
How can we reach more people with successful approaches to food security? In Berlin, an international conference organized by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationaler Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) addressed this issue.
Why are short- and long-term responses important to address current and future global crises? Sebastian Lesch, Head of the Agriculture Division at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), provides answers to these and other questions in an interview with the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development (GDPRD) and explains how much Germany welcomes all donors pulling together and acting in concert.
How to maintain functioning food markets in global food supply chains in the face of vulnerability and disruption? Markets that support local and territorial food systems are part of the solution. Thomas Forster presents proposals for these markets to cope with future shocks.
The Global Alliance for Food Security (GAFS), jointly launched by the German G7 Presidency and the World Bank, released the Global Food and Nutrition Security Dashboard during COP27: A Rapid Response Tool for Coordinating Global Action for Food Security.
A contribution by Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Hornidge
In the video format "#99SecondsWith" of the German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS), Prof. Dr Anna - Katharina Hornidge talks about the new Africa-Strategy of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
How can the challenges related to water, rural development and climate resilient agriculture be addressed? What innovations need to be promoted? The Water and Energy for Food (WE4F) initiative presents strategies and innovations for sustainable, integrated water management in German and international cooperation.
A Year of Multiple Crises: Russian war against Ukraine, extreme weather events, high prices for energy and fertilizer, food crisis had severe implications for food security and agriculture globally and especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. A Transformation of the food systems is needed.
Since early February 2022, two of the biggest grain and oilseed exporters have been at war. An overview, which countries are affected most severely by the destabilized grain markets, and what comes next.
Development cooperation needs to place good governance and a sustainable agri-food systems transformation at its center: After the first 100 days in office have passed, Dirk Meyer from the German Development Ministry (BMZ) spells out the goals, guidelines and priorities of the Ministry’s new lead.
A Contribution of the 'Initiative for Sustainable Agricultural Supply Chains' (INA)
Fair Trade organisations and the Initiative for Sustainable Agricultural Supply Chains (INA) have launched the #ichwillfair campaign during COP26 to highlight the link between global supply chains and climate change.
The Corona pandemic is hitting economies around the world very hard - but developments in African countries are quite diverse. There are different speeds, resiliences and vulnerabilities. What are the reasons for this? Apl. Prof. Jann Lay of the GIGA Institute provides answers.
Four interviews kick off the relaunch under the new name „Food4Transformation“, asking the same questions from different perspectives. Dirk Meyer, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, thinks: less individual solutions are needed, but more systemic approaches. Because in addition to the goals for food security, the issues of climate and biodiversity must also be taken into account.
Four interviews kick off the relaunch under the new name „Food4Transformation“, asking the same questions from different perspectives. Dr Julia Köhn, Chair of the German AgriFood Society, points out in the interview: Only if innovation and transformation are profitable in the medium term can they close the food gap in the long term.
Four interviews kick off the relaunch under the new name „Food4Transformation“, asking the same questions from different perspectives. Mareike Haase and Stig Tanzmann from Brot für die Welt explain why the right to food, inclusivity, agroecology and food sovereignty are the central levers for a successful transformation.
An Interview with Shamika Mone (INOFO) and Elizabeth Nsimadala (EAFF)
At the UN Food Systems Summit, farmers organizations have been represented on the international stage for the first time ever. Two representatives talk about bridging personal aspirations with the representation of regional needs and international negotiations.
After a two-year break due to Corona, the doors of the International Green Week (IGW) in Berlin are opening again. From 20th to 29th January, visitors from all over the world can discover, marvel and taste the produce. But the event is not only feasting and fun. The BMZ stand asks questions about where food comes from & where it goes – and in the process becomes a crash test for many habits.
The transformation of food systems is regarded as the new magic code, but effective strategies are lacking. A new group of experts discussed the prerequisites for efficiently managing this process. The experts representing politics, youth, civil society, farmers' organizations, private sector, and academia unanimously concluded: transformation is possible, but it needs a strong drive from within.
Russia's war against Ukraine and its impact on food, energy and fertiliser prices is worrying farmers all over the world. Young farmers, farmer organisations and politicians from Kenya, Chad and Ukraine tell their stories and what keeps them in agriculture.
During the trade Grüne Woche, school classes visited the BMZ (German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development), Brot für die Welt and Misereor. Each class spends one hour at their stand to learn about the global challenges posed by food systems. A review by Jan Rübel.
An Artikel by the Initiative for Sustainable Agricultural Supply Chains (INA)
A study published by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) examines the differences between globally traded agricultural commodities and domestic niche products in terms of economic, environmental and social impact on the region of origin. The results provide new evidence to make supply chains more sustainable.
The Import Promotion Desk (IPD) accompanied organic producers from developing and emerging countries to Biofach. In an interview, Dr Julia Bellinghausen, head of the IPD, explains the importance of organic certification in export promotion.
Happy youngsters in rural areas, green development and the connection to the digital age – professor Joachim von Braun believes in this future sceneraio for Africa. For three decades the agricultural scienties has been researching how politics can create prosperty on the continent.
The Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2020 shows that the world is not on track to meet the international goal of “zero hunger by 2030”. If we continue at our current speed, around 37 countries will not even have reached a low hunger level by 2030.
In August, Germany’s development ministry set up a division concentrating on One Health topics. Parliamentary State Secretary Maria Flachsbarth on knowledge gaps at the human-animal-environmental interface, the link between One Health and food security, and lessons learnt from previous pandemics.
Startups are booming in African agriculture. What are the current trend and challenges – and can other regions benefit from innovative approaches? A Video-Interview with Claudia Makadristo, Regional Manager of Seedstars
A Contribution by Adrian Muller, Catherine Pfeifer and Jürn Sanders (FiBL)
Taking Biodiversity Focus Areas under production or abandoning lower yielding, more extensive production systems is the wrong approach to mastering the looming global food crisis, say the authors of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL).
Interview with Caroline Milow and Ramon Brentführer
Groundwater resources remain dormant in the soil of African regions. Where does it make sense to use them – and where does overexploitation of nature begin? Caroline Milow (GIZ) and Ramon Brentführer (BGR) talk about potentials in the future and lessons from the past.