More than 250 million Africans are hungry, according to the African Union, and as food price inflation in Africa continues to surge, member states say resilience strategies are needed to combat food insecurity.
Kenyan President William Ruto said young people are needed to help develop successful strategies to combat the problem.
"How do we increase productivity? How do we bring youths into the equations?" Ruto asked. "I think those two issues encapsulates what I think should inform our thinking going forward. The provision of fertilizer and seed is very important, it must be accessible, it must be affordable and it must be available," he added.
The AU says hundreds of millions of people lack enough food, despite African countries having signed the Malabo Declaration that calls for 10% of country’s annual budget to be appropriated to agriculture — though only a few have complied.
Tanzania’s president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, told the conference that her country has increased the budget for agriculture significantly, and that since 2012, the country has successfully used youth, investment and agricultural reforms to lift the lives of subsistence farmers.
Hassan said people dying of hunger on the African continent is a "shame and unacceptable."
Nardos Bekele Thomas, the chief executive officer of the African Union Development Agency, said creating "a resilient and inclusive food system" is Africa's most pressing challenge.
"With the world still emerging form the devastation of COVID pandemic and the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war hunger and malnutrition in our continent is set to worsen in the coming years," said Thomas.
In efforts to fight hunger on the continent, African heads of state are now exploring preferential treatment for farmers with low interest loans and the mechanization of the sector.
Byakatonda Abdulhu, an agriculture expert and a member of parliament in Uganda, says other factors have also derailed the growth of agriculture in Africa.
"Corruption," he said, "is also a big challenge where you find that in most of the priority areas supporting agriculture some funds are normally diverted. We need to look at climate sustainability where we need to have financing to ensure that the farmers produce for the market. This can actually encourage farmers to produce and most economies can get out of poverty and hunger."
Calls are continuing for decisive strategies and actions to rebuild food systems after multiple crises and shocks in Africa.
According to the World Bank, domestic food price inflation remains high around the world — with 79 % of lower-middle-income countries experiencing double-digit inflation, and the most-affected countries are in Africa.