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Experts underscore investment in smallholder
farming to end hunger in Africa      

KIGALI, (Xinhua) -- Agricultural experts on Monday called on African economies to empower small holder farmers in rural areas in order to ensure food security and end hunger and poverty across the continent.

They made the remarks while speaking at the opening of the African Dialogue on the World In 2050 (TWI2050) in Rwandan capital Kigali, aimed at exploring ways how agriculture can contribute to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The two-day meeting, dubbed:”how can agriculture contribute to meeting the SDGs in the context of socio-ecological resilience and the conservation of agro-biodiversity in Africa?” has brought together participants including policy makers, academicians, business leaders and civil society, from across Africa.

“For Africa to end hunger and poverty across millions of citizens in rural areas, we must invest in smallholder farmers to massively increase crop yield for home consumption and surplus for markets. We need to acknowledge and empower smallholder farmers as key investors in agriculture and food systems,” said Patrick Kormawa, FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Eastern Africa.

He emphasized that smallholder farmers make the majority of the population in Africa and are the most vulnerable when it comes to poverty, hunger and starvation because they are ill-equipped with knowledge and skills to improve their agricultural practices.

The forum organized by the Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa (SDGC/A) and Stockholm Resilience Center (SRC) will discuss the role and importance of agriculture and biodiversity for attaining the SDGs in Africa within the planetary boundaries, and continuously following a sustainable trajectory up till 2050.

TWI2050 is a global research initiative in support of a successful implementation of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda.

“For TWI2050 to be relevant in the Agenda 2030 processes, it needs to reflect a diversity of African perspectives including promotion of improved and sustainable agriculture that suits the lives of smallholder farmers in Africa,” said Belay Begashaw, Director General of SDGC/A.

He said smallholder farmers play a crucial role in resolving world hunger, but they’re also those most likely to fall victim to hunger and poverty.

According to the World Bank, there are an estimated 500 million smallholder households globally, amounting to upwards of two billion people, and about 800 million people living below the global poverty line work in the agricultural sector.

African economies should increase the levels of aid and investment flowing to smallholders to increase their produce and improve incomes, said Johan Rockstrom, Executive Director of SRC, an international center that advances trans-disciplinary research for governance of social-ecological systems.

“Improved and sustainable smallholder agriculture practices represent the best option for addressing poverty, hunger and malnutrition in rural farming communities across the continent,” he added.

FAO estimates that 233 million people in Africa were hungry and undernourished in 2014. 

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