Strengthening and transforming Africa’s food systems were at the heart of the recent African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2021 Summit, which took place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 6th – 10th September 2021. During the summit, African leaders reasserted their commitment to achieving food security across the continent, as the continent embarked on a journey to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beyond the pandemic, Africa’s food systems have been heavily impacted by extreme weather conditions, from devastating drought to disastrous floods, crops and livestock are being threatened and millions of Africans are at risk of going hungry. The 2021 African Agriculture Report (AASR21), launched earlier this year, addressed the challenges and opportunities food systems across the continent are facing. The report also explored necessary actions that need to be undertaken in order to achieve food security and resilience on the continent, putting an emphasis on public-private partnerships.
As part of the United Nation (UN) sustainable development goals (SGDs), achieving ‘zero hunger’ is key in building the Africa we want; a sustainable Africa with prosperity for all. However, achieving this herculean task requires effective collaboration at all levels of the food system, from farming to the markets. Here, both public and private sectors have a role to play to enhance the continent’s agri-food systems and ensure that every African citizen is fed.
Madagascar is currently experiencing what is now known as the first ‘climate induced’ famine in global history. In the years to come, extreme weather conditions are likely to continue intensifying and the issues they bring with them as well. In tandem with implementing solutions to mitigate the impacts of climate change, we must find innovative techniques to ensure our food systems are resilient to future external shocks, including climate change and pandemics, as well as invest in building local capacity to produce and distribute food locally, thus decreasing over-reliance on imported products.
At Groupe Filatex, we are deeply committed to contributing to our home country Madagascar’s socio-economic development. We believe in harnessing the abundance of Madagascar’s natural resources and talent to support sustainable development.
As a token of our commitment to sustainability, and part of our CSR programmes, we have launched the ROSO programme in 2019. This programme aims to sustainably improve food security and incomes for local communities in Ambohijanaka, in the central highlands of Madagascar. Through the ROSO programme, we are training locals to fully leverage the land by teaching them new and innovative techniques on the ground, as well as equipping them with cutting edge equipment.
Also in line with our commitment to sustainable development, we recently launched Orga Earth, a cactus farming initiative producing prickly pear oil which is used globally in anti-ageing products, that will provide job opportunities and sustainable income for thousands of people based in southern Madagascar. Through its ‘Cactus for Life’ programme, Orga Earth aims to leave a positive and lasting legacy for local communities in southern Madagascar, providing infrastructure to fight against food insecurity, deforestation and to protect biodiversity in arid lands.
Cactus farming represents a real opportunity for local communities in southern Madagascar to earn a constant income, especially in this tragic period of famine: cactus crops can be harvested all year round, their quality and quantity unaffected by seasonal weather changes.