Restructuring food and land-use systems is critical to securing a brighter future for Africa

AGRF 2020

The increasing population in Africa has contributed to massive urban migration, which has in turn contributed to deforestation and climate change which are a threat to food security since land use is affected.

“We are experiencing an influx in population in the continent which is causing issues with implementing the food and land use systems,’’ said Mr. Kiflu Gedefe Molla, Associate Research Fellow, Ethiopia Development Research Institute (EDRI).

This has indeed created the need to bring about a coalition and coordination of systems that affect food and land use to achieve food security.

On this basis, in May 2018, the Food and Land Use coalition (FOLU) was formed.

FOLU was formed by the collaboration of various partners including the international institute for applied systems analysis (IIASA), SYSTEMIQ, and AGRA, among others to assist in transforming the world’s food and land use systems by focusing on thinking systematically to ensure that all the factors that are key can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“We wanted to engage the key players of food and land use policies and systems and shift their perceptions from theory models to practical models that bring about change,” said Mr. Jeremy Oppenheim, Founding Partner, SYSTEMIQ.

The coalition has been keen on linking the community, businesses, investors, policy-makers, international organisations, members of civil society, grassroots organisations and farmers’ representatives with solutions that reshape the food and land use systems into powerful engines of sustainable growth.

While efforts have been directed to ensuring that there is investment to acquire improved technologies and farm inputs and women empowerment in achieving an effective land use approach, these solutions are just part of the puzzle.

“FOLU has chosen to take a systemic approach that deliver specific results in achieving food security”, said Mr. Oppenheim.

“We are ready to support any country that wants to embark on a systems approach to food and land use,” he added.

A while back, Ethiopia did not have a national land use plan and policy and therefore it was difficult to address the issue of food security.

Currently, the country is among the best performing African countries whose policies of food and land use have led to increased food production.

“It took a lot of convincing and research to convince our government that Ethiopia did not have a National Land plan and policy,” said Mr. Gete Zeleke, Director, Water & Land Research Centre, Addis Ababa University.

“However, we were successful in getting the go ahead to come up with one which has tremendously improved our agricultural sector,” said Mr. Zeleke.

Enhancing a functional linkage between the rural and urban areas will help curb the influx from rural to urban migration that affects land use.

Urban centres should be able to provide value addition to rural areas so that people living in rural areas do not have to move to the urban centres.

Further, if the land systems are not properly addressed through special planning and use land to achieve its maximum potential then food security will not be achieved.

Among the key pillars to FOLU’s agenda include achieving efficient and resilience production systems that support livelihoods, conservation and restoration of forests and biodiversity, reducing food loss and waste, establishment of markets and value chains, agriculture financing and incorporation of healthy diets.