In 2018, FANRPAN and CARE Southern Africa formed a collaboration that was driven largely by the similarity of their mandates and programme objectives. Now in its fifth year, the collaboration’s original focus was on promoting climate-smart agriculture (CSA) as a way of improving the resilience of smallholder farmers to climate change, and the building of a vibrant alliance of CSA stakeholders in the southern Africa region. During the third year of collaboration, the focus broadened to include nutrition, with a focus on trying to influence policy and practice for agriculture to deliver positive nutrition outcomes. Interventions sought to ensure that governments capitalized on the momentum of the Malabo Declaration, especially the impact of the biennial reports, as well as deriving benefit from organised non-state stakeholders and partners to support national and regional agricultural transformation agendas.

Africa’s quest for food and nutrition security can be attained not only through better production efficiencies, but also with a focus on improving the nutrition outcomes of agriculture, building the resilience of the continent’s smallholder farmers to climate change and related variabilities, and the avoidance of food loss.

In recent years, agricultural investment in sub-Saharan Africa has increased leading to an increase in food production. However, despite this increase in food production malnutrition rates are still high. Agricultural programmes have traditionally focused on increasing the availability of food rather than promoting consumption and improving nutrition status. Africa has the highest malnutrition rates in the world; with 17 countries having stunting rates above 40% and 36 countries above 30%. Sub-Saharan Africa carries a high burden of under-nutrition, with 33% of childhood deaths linked to under-nutrition; it is therefore vital that agricultural programmes start to take nutrition into consideration if they are to provide long-term nutrition security. The barriers to good nutrition, amongst others are a lack of knowledge about which food crops are nutrient rich, insufficient harvesting, poor storage and farmers’ failure to access markets, all of which can prevent foods reaching the people who need them most. Women’s lack of empowerment partly contributes to this scenario. It is often assumed that when women are able to decide what to grow, what to consume and how household budgets are spent, nutrition at household level improves. Against this background, a concerted effort is required to influence the nutrition agenda under the Malabo Declaration, especially in view of the second Biennial Review process that is currently underway. The region must deploy a structured approach aimed at influencing the UN Global Nutrition Agenda (UNGNA) to ensure a broad framework for aligning the work of SADC development actors in support of regional and national nutrition.

Climate change and variability threaten to erode and reverse the gains made in ending hunger and malnutrition. Climate change is a present and growing threat to food and nutrition security in Africa, and more so to the economies of countries that are heavily reliant on agriculture. Currently, whilst there is some spatial diversity, reduced precipitation and higher temperatures are already impacting negatively on the yields of staple food crops. It is estimated that by 2050, an additional 71 million people globally will become food insecure as a result the impacts of climate change, with over half of them being in sub-Saharan Africa. The deterioration of the food and nutrition security situation in Africa, and the lack of progress towards World Health Organisation’s (WHO) global nutrition targets makes it imperative for countries to step up their efforts. The need for a heightened sense of urgency and renewed commitment can also be seen from the findings of the inaugural biennial review of countries’ progress towards implementation of the Malabo Declaration commitments. The inaugural results illustrated a positive correlation between a country’s performance and its commitment to the values and principles of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). Climate resilience is key and must be built around climate risk assessments, science, proven technologies, and cross-sectoral collaboration. Greater efforts are needed in data collection, monitoring, and implementation of climate-smart agriculture practices. Continued efforts, through partnerships, blending climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, and long-term financing, are needed to bridge humanitarian and development approaches. In addition, actions across sectors must be scaled up to achieve greater smallholder farmer and women’s resilience to climate variability and extremes.

In Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), an average of 20% of food is lost at storage (FAO, 2011). Estimated to be worth $4 billion per year, the food loses can feed up to 48 million people (FAO, 2013). Losses on cereals are high, accounting for about 25% of the total crop harvested, a situation that demands a high sense of urgency towards addressing it. In response to the heavy losses, a wide array of modern and improved postharvest loss management (PHLM) technologies have been introduced to smallholder farmers through the combined efforts of public, private, and civil society sector actors. Despite the different interventions and promotion, the adoption rates for different PHLM technologies by smallholder farmers remain sub-optimal for various reasons. Initial studies point to low incomes as the main inhibiter of accelerated adoption, with smallholder farmers unable to mobilise the adequate initial outlay required for technologies such as metal silos, thereby restricting adoption rates to between 40-60%. This inability to invest in improved PHLM technologies triggers a vicious cycle for smallholder farmers, making agriculture an inescapable poverty trap characterised by reliance on traditional non-improved technologies, high losses, low incomes and low innovation potential.

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This output is the result of contributions of numerous participants and experts – generating evidence to inform the campaign. We wish to express our gratitude for all contributions, without which this output would not have been possible.