radical overhaul of existing agricultural policies combined with smart investments, research and technology adoption will be key to ending the hunger crisis in the Horn of African region, ministers said Friday.
Speaking at a forum convened by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development(IGAD), an East African bloc, in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, the ministers stressed that eradicating food insecurity in the region hinged on a speedy transition to climate-smart and commercially-driven farming systems.
Abu Bakr Omer Elbushra, Sudan’s Minister for Agriculture and Forests, observed that meeting the rising demand for food in the drought-prone Horn of Africa region required policy reforms, robust funding, and adoption of improved crops.
Elbushra added that agricultural mechanization through irrigation, adoption of certified seeds, application of fertilizer and modern post-harvest storage technologies will boost food and nutrition security in the region.
The Nairobi forum attended by senior policymakers from the eight IGAD member states, donors and humanitarian actors discussed strategic interventions required to end the spiraling hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa region.
Workneh Gebeyehu, the executive secretary of IGAD noted that climatic shocks, civil strife, desert locust invasion and the Ukraine crisis had escalated hunger and malnutrition in the region, to the detriment of long-term growth and stability.
According to Gebeyehu, over 51 million or 20 percent of the population in seven out of eight IGAD member states are estimated to be highly food insecure, with a further 388,000 at risk of starvation.
He added that over 10 million children in the region are suffering from acute malnutrition adding that scaling up humanitarian support for drought victims was urgent to avert fatalities.
Gebeyehu stressed that a long-term solution to the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa region was dependent on investments in early warning, joint research, knowledge sharing and a shift to climate-resilient agriculture.
Ahmed Madobe Nunow, Somalia’s Minister for Agriculture and Irrigation, said that investments in resilient food systems were paramount given the recurrence of droughts in the Horn of Africa region coupled with rapid population growth.
In addition, Nunow said that countries in the region should leverage private sector investments, research and training to revamp agricultural systems in the face of climate and human-induced threats.
Lawrence Omuhaka, the Chief Administrative Secretary in Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries said that investing in climate-resilient subsistence farming and pastoralism could minimize hunger crises in the Horn of Africa region.