COVID-19 Response Must Target African Agriculture, Rural Poor

The leaders said that 80 million Africans could be pushed into extreme poverty due to the pandemic if action is not taken.

Addressing food security and target the rural poor in the COVID-19 response is vital as rural people particularly working on small-scale farms are vulnerable to the impacts of the crisis, they said.

Agriculture contributes 65 percent of Africa’s employment and 75 percent of its domestic trade. However, the rich potential of agriculture as a tool to promote food security and fight poverty is at risk from the effects of COVID-19, the leaders stressed.

At this time, the international development agenda is prioritizing health, economies and infrastructure. But there must also be a focus on food security, agribusiness and rural development, they urged.

African governments have defined stimulus measures to mitigate national and regional economic impacts of COVID-19. As they do, they must remember that investments in agriculture can be up to five times more poverty-reducing than investments in other sectors.

Hailemariam and Obasanjo suggested that investments in rural, small-scale agriculture are particularly important for the region’s food security, for safeguarding the livelihoods of some of its most vulnerable people and for sustaining the gains in poverty alleviation and wealth creation.

In March, the UN Economic Commission for Africa predicted growth in Africa would drop from 3.2 per cent to 1.8 per cent in 2020. Within the continent, lockdowns are disrupting inter-regional trade.

The effect of restrictive measures on food trade is especially worrying, in particular for food-importing countries, but also because of shrinking export markets for the continent’s farmers.

In April, the World Bank projected the pandemic would hit Africa the hardest of any region, pushing 23 million people into poverty.

This raises the question of how small producers in Africa can get access to inputs and finance to grow and sell the food needed to ensure food security and support livelihoods. African leaders must be in the vanguard of funding solution.


Source: Ethiopia News agency

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