By Aarshi Dua
Africa Day is commemorated every year on 25 May to honour the day Africa Union’s forerunner, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which was founded on 25 May 1963. The OAU was transformed and remodelled into the African Union on 9 July 2002. The year 2022 signifies the 20th anniversary of the African Union. The theme of the Africa day celebration for 2022 is Nutrition, and the aim of AU is to strengthen the Agro-Food Systems, Health and Social Protection Systems to Accelerate Human, Social, and Economic Capital Development on the African Continent.
Covid-19 has revealed African nations’ economic fragility and health and food system inadequacies. With COVID-19, many countries’ human capital gains over the last decade are in danger. In many African nations, keeping the virus at bay has meant sacrificing malnutrition reductions. Due to greater food insecurity concerns, waste will grow. Urgent action is required to protect the poor and vulnerable. Interventions targeting the most disadvantaged are required to invest in human capital. Continued efforts are needed, including advocacy in regions and communities where risks are greatest, strengthening social protection systems, and protecting access to good food and nutrition for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups like small children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, older people, and other at-risk groups. The 2022 Africa Day is aimed at generating awareness and consciousness for nutrition and health concerns in Africa.
This is also emphasised in the long-term vision encapsulated by Agenda 2063. Where one emphasises the importance of nutrition for the “Africa We Want” with goals on “African people have a high standard of living, quality of life, sound health and wellbeing” and “citizens are healthy, well-nourished, and have a life expectancy of at least 75 years.” For this, preserving and developing high-quality agricultural techniques in Africa is necessary as agriculture is fundamental to Africa’s growth, which is vital to a future where Africa feeds itself and the world.
In accord with the Africa Day of 2022, India and Africa have cooperated on food security in the recent decade. India has long-standing bilateral collaboration with various African countries via training programmes, institutional development, and soft loans in agricultural and related sectors to enhance farming practices irrigation, soil quality evaluation and improvement, and farm equipment. On the other hand, India’s trilateral collaborations to promote food security in Africa include India, Brazil, and South Africa (IBSA) Fund, USAID, and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID)-funded Supporting India’s Trade Preference for Africa (SITA) program. Additionally, the Indian government has suggested the establishment of labs for the testing of foodstuffs in countries such as the Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, Gambia, Rwanda, and Nigeria, with International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) serving as the implementing agency. In Nigeria and Zimbabwe, the laboratories have already been established.
India fosters private sector partnerships in Africa as well by adopting export-friendly policies. African initiatives to encourage FDI via financial and regulatory systems that simplify corporate procedures welcome this. Lastly, Indian NGOs like SEWA are devoted to sharing information and paradigms on female empowerment and self-reliance from rural India with their African counterparts. Across the last decade, the group has begun women-to-women collaborations in Africa. SEWA delivered their effective learning and experience-sharing technique with smallholder women farmers in Ghana. Currently, Ghanaian women have established a supply chain and export around 200 tonnes of shea butter to Japan. SEWA has been implementing exposure and conversation initiatives with Burkina Faso, Mali, Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Kenyan women farmers. This is a source of foreign direct investment and capacity development for small-scale and local agricultural techniques. India is also supporting Africa’s agricultural agenda via bilateral and multilateral diplomatic efforts, including the India Africa Forum Summits (2008, 2011 and 2015) and high-level visits from India to Africa. The relationship between India and Africa extends beyond geopolitical and economic issues. This cooperation is set to achieve shared prosperity and food security for all. A robust agricultural sector is vital to attaining food security and reducing poverty in Africa and India.
Thus, the 2022 Africa Day theme is to promote food security and strengthen the Agricultural system in Africa. The importance of health, nutrition and protection of at-risk communities is not only vital for Africa as a whole but also is a vital component of India- Africa Relations; therefore, it is a very relevant and must be implemented agenda in context of the contemporary health, agriculture and food crisis in Africa.
(Author is Doctoral Scholar, Centre for African Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited).