African youth call for food systems overhaul to realize sustainability agenda

  • World
  • Tuesday, 30 May 2023

NAIROBI, May 29 (Xinhua) -- The shift from chemical-intensive to eco-friendly food production systems in Africa is urgent to help the continent tackle rural poverty, hunger, and climate emergencies, youthful green campaigners said Monday.

The youth from 24 African countries urged large-scale adoption of nature-based farming systems, adding they were key to food security and climate resilience.

Convened by Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), a coalition of green lobbies, the three-day summit that ended in the eastern Kenyan county of Machakos resolved to place the youth at the heart of the continent's quest for transition to agricultural systems that are in harmony with ecosystems' health.

Million Belay, the general coordinator of AFSA, emphasized that Africa's ability to realize a green, resilient, and hunger-free future hinged on empowering small-holder farmers to produce food in a nature-sensitive manner.

"We are advocating for production of food in a way that does not hurt the environment but promotes climate resilience," Belay said, adding that organically grown food will boost health outcomes of Africa's grassroots communities.

Kenya hosted the first youth summit on food systems under the theme of "Nurturing the Future: Youth leading the way in agroecology farming for healthy diets in Africa."

The summit adopted an ambitious roadmap that called for a systemic shift to food systems that are in harmony with nature in order to tackle the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.

"By adopting agroecology, we nurture a regenerative and inclusive food system that respects our cultural heritage, preserves our social values, and safeguards our African identity," the youth said in a communique.

The youth also said that guaranteeing them land rights, access to capital, innovations, and markets will be key to promoting their participation in nature-friendly farming practices.

Realizing food systems transformation in Africa, with the youth at the center, demands policy reforms, training, and access to green farm inputs like fertilizer and seeds alongside innovations that promote value addition, said Joyce Brown, the coordinator of AFSA Youth Platform.

Brown said that African youth are keen to be at the frontline of revamping food production systems to make them more resilient to extreme weather events, pests, and diseases, subject to the creation of an enabling policy and regulatory environment.

She added that African youth have leveraged best practices elsewhere alongside indigenous knowledge and innovations to practice farming systems that promote green transition and sustainable livelihoods.

Elujulo Opeyemi, the founder and executive director of Nigeria's Youth in Agroecology and Restoration Network, said that improving the technical competence of African youth, providing them with capital, and linking them to markets is key to accelerating the uptake of green farming.

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