The African Union Commission in collaboration with the NEPAD Agency, FAO, WHO and Development Partners organized a two-day Continental Symposium on the theme ‘Sustainable Food Systems for Healthy Diets and Improved Nutrition on 16th-17th November 2017. This event was followed by the commemoration of the 8th African Day for Food and Nutrition Security (ADFNS) on 18th November 2017 in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire.
The overall objective of the meeting was to recognize the long-term benefits of sustainable food systems for healthier diets and improved nutrition on the socio-economic development of Africa and create the platform for stakeholders to re-commit to dedicate resources for sustained and coherent implementation of the various policies, programmes and initiatives to impact nutrition and health.
Representing FARA were Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, the Executive Director and Dr. Rose Omari, Consultant, Capacity Development and Advocacy and Biofortification. Moderating a technical session under the sub-theme: “Policies and measures for supporting diversification of food production systems and value chains for improved access to safer, healthier and nutritious diets; maximising benefits from Africa’s diverse foods”, Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo emphasised the need for Africa to put into action, recommendations that emanate from meetings such as the Continental Symposium on Sustainable Food Systems for Healthy Diets and Improved Nutrition. He indicated that Africans are ‘chained in the food chain’ because of “our inability” to address postharvest and food safety problems along the food chain which contribute to food insecurity, malnutrition and health challenges.
While discussing the measures to ensure multi-sectoral coordination and regulation of the food supply chain to ensure approved systems for provision of safe and nutritious food, Dr. Omari emphasized that the food supply chain is made of different category of actors and institutions that must work together to ensure safe and nutritious food supply. She underscored the important role researchers play, for example, in developing food safety control measures, risk assessments, product development and generating evidence-based data to inform food and nutrition policies and regulations.
More than 200 participants from 47 African countries including parliamentarians, policy-makers, academicians, researchers, students, civil society and farmers’ organizations, the private sector and development partners gathered in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire for the Symposium with the aim of reviewing evidence, examining policy and programme implications and providing recommendations on how sustainable food systems to optimize improved nutrition outcomes with nutritionally balanced diets and healthy lifestyles in Africa.
The symposium was also attended by five Regional Bioforfitication Advocacy Champions namely Dr. Laila Lokosang, CAADP Advisor, Food and Nutrition and Senior Advisor; Dr Mawuli Sablah, FAO Africa Regional Office; Mariam Akiror, Africa External Affairs Directorate Harvest Plus; Prof Francis Zotor, University of Health and Allied Sciences; Kefilwe Moalosi, Nutrition Officer, NEPAD.