News digest: Agri-food Systems and Sustainability



African female farmers clamour to be heard at COP27
At COP27, where heads of state discussed crucial climate-related issues such as loss and damage, mitigation, and adaptation, it was difficult to hear the voices of African female farmers. But a small representation of them could be found at COP27 side events organised by NGOs and climate justice activists. Some of them came in person from countries currently experiencing prolonged droughts or floods, where farming is impossible and women suffer. One of the farmers who made it to Egypt was Mana Omar, who came from Kenya where women farmers have to migrate from area to area and wait for rainy seasons in an attempt to survive. Omar shared her experience supporting women farmers in Kenya during a session organised by the Ban Ki-Moon Centre for Global Citizens, EmpoderaClima, and YPARD on Gender Day at COP27, and explained how her NGO was seeking to build climate resilience in Kenya. (, 15 November 2022)

UNIDO and the African Union discuss food security and value chains
Gerd Müller, Director General of UNIDO, and his delegation, held a fruitful meeting with Josefa Sacko, African Union Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment. At the heart of the discussion was agreement on the need to strengthen intra-African value chains, especially in agricultural goods. Commissioner Sacko explained that the African Union is pushing to establish regional zones where countries can use their comparative advantage to boost regional trade, for example, rice from West Africa and cereals from East Africa. Director General Müller highlighted UNIDO’s work on integrated agro-industrial parks and agropoles in Ethiopia and Senegal respectively, and suggested collaboration on this topic with the African Union. (UNIDO, 11 October 2022)

West Africa’s agro-industrial clusters get a boost
While the African Development Bank (AfDB) officially launched the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone (SAPZ) programme in Nigeria on 24 October, providing €120 million in financing, it yesterday granted a €63.6 million loan to finance the Agropole Centre in Senegal. This agropole will cover four regions in the centre of the country: Kaolack, Kaffrine, Fatick and Diourbell and will focus on agro-industrial value chains, notably groundnuts, cereals and salt, in favour of producer organisations and SMEs. At the end of August, the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) provided FCFA 30 billion (€45.74 million) for the agro-industrial cluster in the north. (Commodafrica, 27 October 2022)

In Burkina Faso, Dénis Ouédraogo is the new Minister of Agriculture
The Prime Minister of the transition of Burkina Faso, Apollinaire Joachimson Kyélem de Tambela, revealed on Tuesday the composition of the new transition government composed of 23 ministers. Dénis Ouédraogo is the new Minister of Agriculture, Animal Resources and Fisheries (MARAH). He is the third Minister of Agriculture in 10 months. He holds a PhD in Economics and Socio-Economics of Development from the University of Ouagadougou, and since 2004 has been a teacher-researcher in economics in the Department of Sociology and Rural Economics at the Institute of Rural Development (IDR)/University Nazi BONI (UNB). He was Director General of the Promotion of Rural Economy (DGPER) in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security between September 2013 and March 2016 and Director General of the Multipurpose Agricultural Centre of Matourkou, which became the National Agricultural Training School (ENAFA), between March 2016 and July 2022. (Commodafrica, 27 October 2022)

Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF) Call to Action for COP27
The Eastern Africa Farmer’s Federation (EAFF), comprising 24 farmer organisations from ten countries, has signed a shared call to action to enhance the role of farmers in climate policy. The EAFF’s members represent apex farmer associations, cooperatives and commodity associations, representing over 25 million farmers across East Africa. Despite the unique national priorities and processes within each member country, this call serves as a common request for support to enhance farmer-led climate change intervention processes at the national and regional levels. This collective statement includes key messages from farmer organisations, as well as contributions from the EAFF Secretariat in support of their members. The Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF) Call to Action for COP27 statement. (EAFF, 7 November 2022)



COP27: Caribbean nations, the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change, should collaborate with the Commonwealth to boost resilience
Members of the Commonwealth—among them various Caribbean countries—must intensify joint efforts to guarantee agricultural resilience and food security for their people. This was the view of experts from this community of nations, who were meeting at the Home of Sustainable Agriculture of the Americas, the pavilion that the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) has installed at COP27, which began this week in Egypt. The Caribbean is one of the world’s regions most vulnerable to climate change, due to the greater frequency and intensity of natural disasters, for example, hurricanes and floods, in addition to rising sea levels. This has created new challenges for small farmers who are the ones safeguarding the fragile food security in these countries. “Commonwealth Countries: Growing Together for Climate Resilience and Food and Nutrition Security” was the title of the panel discussion, which attracted attention amidst the vast number of activities taking place at the Summit. (IICA, 9 November 2022)



“The clock is ticking” – At COP27 fair trade organisations reiterate urgent call for inclusive climate solutions as smallholder farmers face growing climate threats
Global leaders must strengthen and accelerate efforts to enforce human rights and environmental due diligence in supply chains, confront trade injustice, and ensure that climate financing mechanisms reach the world’s smallholder agricultural producers in order to deliver successful and equitable climate action before it is too late, the world’s leading Fair Trade organisations have warned. In a position paper titled “The Clock Is Ticking!” and released ahead of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP27, Fairtrade, the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), and the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) have intensified their calls for trade and climate justice, indicating the critical measures for delivering fair climate solutions and demanding the enforcement of public climate commitments and for trade actors to be accountable for their climate promises. (The Fairtrade Foundation, 7 November 2022)

COP27: Increasing climate finance crucial to bring about sustainable transformation of agrifood systems
For agrifood systems to adapt to climate change and become more sustainable, improving the quality and quantity of climate finance contributions to the sector is critical – that was the main message at the launch of the Food and Agriculture for Sustainable Transformation Initiative (FAST) at COP27. FAST aims to make this possible by enhancing country capacities to identify and access climate finance and investment, giving stakeholders greater access to knowledge and developing guidelines and providing support in crafting appropriate climate action policies. Promoting food security and diversity, empowering and engaging women, youth, Indigenous Peoples and people in vulnerable situations, using science and innovation to improve agricultural practices across the value chains – these are some of the principles that will guide FAST’s work. (FAO, 12 November 2022)

Statement by President von der Leyen on the outcome of COP27
COP27 marks a small step towards climate justice but much more is needed for the planet. We have treated some of the symptoms but not cured the patient from its fever. I am pleased that COP27 has opened a new chapter on financing loss and damage, and laid the foundations for a new method for solidarity between those in need and those in a position to help. We are rebuilding trust. This is crucial moving forward because there can be no lasting action against climate change without climate justice. The European Union is already the world’s leading contributor of international climate finance, and I am satisfied that we confirmed our commitment to support the most vulnerable on our planet through a first contribution on loss and damage. Full statement. (European Commission, 20 November 2022)

COP27 closes with deal on loss and damage: “A step towards justice”, says UN chief
“This COP has taken an important step towards justice. I welcome the decision to establish a loss and damage fund and to operationalize it in the coming period,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres underscoring that the voices of those on frontlines of the climate crisis must be heard. The UN chief was referring to what ended up becoming the thorniest issue at this COP. Developing countries made strong and repeated appeals for the establishment of a loss and damage fund, to compensate the countries that are the most vulnerable to climate disasters, yet who have contributed little to the climate crisis. “Clearly this will not be enough, but it is a much-needed political signal to rebuild broken trust,” he underscored, stressing that the UN system will support the effort every step of the way. (United Nations, 20 November 2022)

COP27: a favourable agreement for Africa but disappointing for the environment
Delegations at the 27th annual UN climate conference, COP27, reached a final agreement yesterday morning and for the first time recognised the need to provide financial assistance to the most vulnerable countries to cope with the damage caused by global warming: a fund will be created for this purpose. These “vulnerable” countries, particularly in Africa, had made the launch of this fund a priority, which had prolonged the debates, while the conference was due to end on Friday. The text, which includes the creation of a “loss and damage” fund to help developing countries cope with the adverse effects of climate change, such as storms and floods, was adopted after tense negotiations that went on all night. (Commodafrica, 21 November 2022)




UNCTAD and AfCFTA Secretariat strengthen ties to boost regional integration and trade in Africa
UNCTAD and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat have signed a memorandum of understanding to boost their joint efforts to promote regional integration and inclusive growth in Africa. The heightened partnership will enable UNCTAD to work closely with the AfCFTA Secretariat, African member states, regional economic communities, the business community and strategic development partners to foster regional economic integration and growth in Africa. Joint work under the agreement aims to help African countries build the productive capacities they need to integrate regionally and participate in world trade more equitably. (UNCTAD, 10 October 2022)

Why we eat what we eat: studying vegetable consumption in three African countries
As part of Safe Locally produced Vegetables for West Africa consumers (SAFEVEG) project, the World Vegetable Center conducted studies in three African countries with very low consumption of fruit and vegetables to investigate the factors affecting daily food choices. They found that in Benin, people only eat about 96 g of fruit and vegetables per day, while in Mali and Burkina Faso, people only consume 74 g per day – far below recommended levels of 400 g. More than 1000 households in each country were interviewed and asked not only what and how much they eat but also where they buy their vegetables and whether they can afford them. Although respondents said they were confident about their ability to judge the quality of vegetables, they were interested in knowing more about vegetable safety. They expressed serious concerns about the hygiene standards and pesticide residues on vegetables purchased from less reliable origins. (World Vegetable Center, 7 October 2022)

Small-scale farmers are vital to feeding West and Central Africa and transforming food systems
Amid increasing global hunger and poverty, devastating climate change impacts, the Covid-19 pandemic and the widespread effects of the war in Ukraine, small-scale producers can play a lead role in reducing hunger and poverty at country and regional levels. On 16 November 2022, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) convened policy-makers, development practitioners, rural producers and farmers organisations at its second Farmers Forum in Grand-Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire to explore opportunities to strengthen partnerships between them. Together, they can work jointly for sustainable transformation of food systems and food security. (IFAD, 14 November 2022)

Prime Minister of KwaZulu-Natal unveils programme to increase agricultural production
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube has unveiled what is called the Multi-Planting Season Program. It is a programme that aims to provide necessary assistance to underprivileged farmers and ensure that thousands of emerging farmers are trained in agricultural production. At the unveiling Dube-Ncube said that the programme is aimed at getting rid of poverty, inequality and unemployment through inclusive rural economic development by investing in agriculture. She said through the programme, the government will enhance the capability of farmers by supporting them in optimising agricultural production throughout all seasons and provide technical information and extension support. (Fresh Plaza, 14 October 2022)

Burkina Faso excluded from US AGOA
On 1 January 2023, Burkina Faso will be excluded from the preferential trade agreement with the United States, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). “I am taking this action because I have determined that the government of Burkina Faso has not established, or is not making continued progress toward establishing, the protection of the rule of law and political pluralism,” US President Joe Biden said in a letter to Congress. A decision that follows the two coups that have taken place in the country this year. “Our administration is deeply concerned about the unconstitutional changes of government in Burkina Faso,” US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a statement. She added that Washington “urges Burkina Faso to take the necessary steps to meet the statutory criteria and return to elective democracy”. (Commodafrica, 4 November 2022)



Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit focuses on agriculture for Dominica
In a radio interview on 13 October, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Dr Roosevelt Skerrit, spoke about the concerns and matters of the people of Dominica related to their welfare and well-being. He said that the government is focusing on agriculture, which includes sustaining existing farmers and seeking to attract more young people, especially young professionals into agriculture. The government is also focusing heavily on growing more food in Dominica, such as the high-value crops broccoli, cauliflower, dragon fruit, and yellow and red bell peppers, and also moving towards greenhouse technology. (Fresh Plaza, 17 October 2022)



Implementing the new Common Agricultural Policy: launch of the EU CAP Network
The European Commission launched the European CAP Network during an event in Brussels, gathering more than 300 participants from the public and private sector. The EU CAP Network aims to optimise the flow of information about agriculture and rural policy within the EU, support the implementation and evaluation of the CAP Strategic Plans, and boost innovation in the sector. The new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), set to start on 1 January 2023, is designed to shape the transition to a sustainable, resilient and modern European agricultural sector. It will continue playing a key role in supporting Europe’s agricultural sector as well as strengthening the efforts of European farmers to tackle climate change and protect the environment, in line with the Commission’s Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies. (Fresh Plaza, 7 October 2022)



FAO Food Price Index drops for the sixth consecutive month
The gauge for world food commodity prices declined for the sixth month in a row in September, with sharp drops in the quotations for vegetable oils more than offsetting higher cereal prices, according to a report released on 7 October by the FAO. The FAO Food Price Index averaged 136.3 points in September, down 1.1% from August while remaining 5.5% higher than its value a year earlier. The Index tracks monthly changes in the international prices of a basket of commonly traded food commodities. (FAO, 7 October 2022)

Bioeconomy: FAO is at the forefront of global efforts to promote sustainable food and agriculture
The FAO is at the forefront of global efforts to promote bioeconomy innovations and make our agrifood systems more sustainable, Director-General Qu Dongyu told a European Union conference in Brussels on 6 October. Qu addressed the conference, entitled “The Bioeconomy – Enabling the European Green Deal in Challenging Times”, during its High-Level opening session, along with leading members of the European Commission, representatives from the Czech presidency of the EU, and Member States. The Director-General noted that an economy based on biotechnology, with bio-industry and bio-products, together with innovations, can play an important role in addressing today’s challenges, which range from the growing impact of the climate crisis, to surging food and production prices amid ongoing conflicts and the war in Ukraine. (FAO, 6 October 2022)

World Food Forum: FAO introduces the Agrifood Systems Technologies and Innovations Outlook
The FAO has unveiled details and hosted a discussion on its upcoming Agrifood Systems Technologies and Innovations Outlook, a new knowledge product designed to inform evidence-based policy dialogue and decisions, including on investments. The Agrifood Systems Technologies and Innovations Outlook (ATIO) is designed to pull together existing data and analyses from myriad sources into an actionable body of evidence. Data curation will be supplemented with foresight about the impact pathways that various science, technology and innovations (STI) under development might follow, and with syntheses of the available evidence on STI impacts. (FAO, 20 October 2022)

STDF 2021 Annual Report published
The STDF 2021 Annual Report spotlights how ongoing dialogue and cooperation among partners supported developing and least-developed countries to strengthen their food safety, animal and plant health capacity, to facilitate safe trade, despite the ongoing pandemic. The Annual Report provides snapshots of STDF-supported projects including: lowering aflatoxin contamination in maize in Burkina Faso to reduce border rejections; improving phytosanitary controls to boost Ugandan flower exports; promoting IT solutions for pest surveillance and reporting in the Asia-Pacific; promoting biopesticide use in Asia, Africa and Latin America to facilitate trade; prioritising SPS investments in the Caribbean and Ecuador; and strengthening the safety and quality of Sri Lankan spices for export. (STDF, 1 October 2022)

UNIDO and FAO working together to reduce hunger, helping businesses from farm to fork
UNIDO’s Director General Gerd Müller and FAO’s Director General Qu Dongyu have agreed to new collaboration on a number of key areas, signing a memorandum of understanding on the margins of the World Food Forum. The two agreed to work together on agri-food systems transformation and agribusiness value chains, in particular through the Agrifood Systems Transformation Accelerator global programme, and on job creation in rural areas for youth in Africa with a focus on agriculture and agribusiness. More generally, there will be new cooperation in food security and safety, mitigating environmental pollution in agri-food systems, and sustainable bio-economies as a whole. (UNIDO)

World Food Forum: Transforming agrifood systems through digital technologies
The capacity and potential of digital technologies to help solve many complex problems in our agrifood systems came under the spotlight at a special event of the World Food Forum’s Science and Innovation Forum. The Digitalization of Agrifood Systems event hosted by FAO, explored the digital capabilities and opportunities to usher transformational impact for vulnerable populations in bridging the rural divide and empowering youth and women to access information, technology, and markets. Through an emphasis on science, technology and innovation, the event offered a platform to spark discussions and showcase concrete examples of digital technologies that are accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the FAO Four Betters. Data-driven agriculture promises opportunities of more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems, positively affecting food markets and agricultural productivity to enhance food security. (FAO, 24 October 2022)

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