Sep 7, 2021 | Blog

Achieving Equitable & Inclusive Livelihoods

The Poverty, inequality, and power imbalances at household, community, national and global levels are a major constraint to the attainment of sustainable food systems. More than 700 million people, or 10 per cent of the world population, still live in extreme poverty. Many people living on less than $1.90 a day live in sub-Saharan Africa and the COVID-19 crisis risks reversing decades of progress in the fight against poverty. The world is clearly off track, when it comes to the 2030 targets of eradicating extreme poverty for all people everywhere.

This is the discussion brief that kicked off the equitable and inclusive livelihoods plenary session moderated by Ms. Nozipho Tshabalala CEO, The Conversation Strategist. Nozipho who passed the mantle to Prof. Hamadi Boga-Principal Secretary, State Department for Agricultural Research in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation, Kenya. Professor Hamadi profiled key milestones alongside the challenges in policy made in agriculture in Kenya by stating, ”Kenyan policies in agriculture recognize that we have smallholder farmers who are still very poor, women are equally not adequately involved however noting this we ensure that we do not exclude anyone in dialogue and policy regulation.”

The fireside chat included contributions from Ms. Michelle Nunn Chairperson, UNFSS Action Track 4, Advance Equitable Livelihoods, & President and CEO, CARE USA contribute. She cited that she doesn’t think that we are on the right trajectory to achieving the SDGs, adding, “we need political will and investment of resources that are not currently available in society.”

“We are supporting all efforts to food systems transformation and in Africa for example, we are deeply committed to consumers. Producers however have a heavy task in transforming agriculture and it takes heavy investments even in the wealthiest parts of the world,” said Mark Schneider, CEO, Nestlé. This was in response to what roles the private sector plays in achieving equitable and inclusive livelihoods.

Dr. Susan Chomba Director, Vital Landscapes, World Resources Institute (WRI) Africa also contributed by listing the key levers of change. “I will state four levers of change starting with Innovation, with a focus on improving smallholder farmer production, the second lever is Human Rights, are people accessing food in a way that respects Human Rights?”  She went on to state that the third lever is on finance which needs to be nature positive and accessible to women. To finalize she stated the fourth lever was gender equality and women empowerment, calling on the fact that we cannot leave women behind.

Next was a panel discussion that invited key panellists from the private and development sector to discuss further. Mr. Vimal Shah- Co-Founder and Chairman of Bidco Africa representing the private sector indicated, “Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement is an opportunity to tap into if well implemented in the continent.”

Prof. Kevin Urama, African Development Institute, African Development Bank Group added that there are very deliberate efforts in various programs within Africa Development Bank that puts women and Youth at the core of agriculture. This primarily encompasses providing financing and for the youth incubation for innovative ideas to boost creativity and interest in agriculture.

“Countries should find ways to incentivize SMEs in agriculture, while partnering with smallholder farmers and also being sensitive to cultural practices,” said Ms. Blayne Tesfaye, Co-founder and CEO TruLuv.

On came the last plenary session where Mr. Stephen Jackson, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Kenya brought in passionate and insightful sentiments from Kenya. “Kenya is a beautiful paradox, it is a success story in agriculture despite having loads of drought/flood-affected areas. We have best practice of putting together private-public sector partnerships which have put actionable legislations and I am very optimistic,” he said.

To finalize with a punch, Prof. Sheryl Hendriks, Professor and Head of Department, University of Pretoria stated, “the era of cheap food is way gone.”