H.E. Josepha Leonel Correia Sacko, Commissioner of the African Union Commission’s Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture has called on Africa’s development partners to allocate at least 10% of the resources committed to fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic to supporting agricultural research institutions in Africa.
The Commissioner made the call on Wednesday 20th May, during the first regional and continental eForum hosted by the implementing institutions of the European Union funded CAADP XP4 programme which is administered by the IFAD; on the contribution of agricultural research and innovation in mitigating the impact of COVID-19 in Africa.
“…to our member states and development partners, I’d like to call for the allocation of at least 10% of the emergency financial resources being mobilized for COVID-19 to support science, technology and innovation in Africa”, says Her Excellency Josepha Sacko.
Clarion Call for Home-grown Science
While lauding the prompt action of FARA and its partners for the sense of urgency in initiating a homegrown response to the pandemic, Her Excellency Madam Sacko pointed to the fact that COVID-19 is rapidly exacerbating the already existing food safety and nutrition crisis on the continent. She indicated that the room for maneuver for Africa in the face of COVID-19 is getting smaller by the day and any further delays could pose real and existential threats to the continent’s rural economy and food and agriculture system.
“We need to be careful not to move from a health crisis to a food crisis as a result of the worsening trend of COVID-19”. She indicated that this calls for an enhanced role agricultural research in the face of the pandemic, saying, “therefore, the next best time to invest in Africa’s food system is now”
Stating the need for urgent boosting of Africa’s science and research infrastructure, the Commissioner renewed the clarion call for governments to meeting the 10% investment target in the agricultural sector as defined by the Malabo Declaration, and 1% to agriculture research in particular.
The webinar which is the first in the series, is based on the response to COVID-19 by the implementing partners of the CAADP XP4 programme namely, AFAAS, ASARECA, CCARDESA, CORAF and FARA. It was attended by more than 200 hundred participants drawn from research, academia, NGOs, farmer organizations,
The CAADP XP4 COVID-19 Response Issue Paper identified three critical intervention areas namely technologies for fast-tracking mitigation of food shortages and extending storability, strengthening of food supply systems, trade and labour markets and foresighting vulnerabilities in Africa’s food system.
This is the right and forward way to go Your Excellency ie 10% of COVID funds to be diverted to Rural Economy and Agriculture! Solving COVID impacts without tackling Agriculture and Rural Economy would not mitigate the effects the pandemic has caused especially Sub-Saharan Africa where lives and livelihoods depend of subsistence/peasant Agriculture and more so with the effects of Poverty and Conflicts eg the Horn of Africa. The three should be solved concurrently to mitigate their combined effects.