EAST AFRICA – The 17th Food and Agriculture Organization Subregional Office for Eastern Africa (FAO SFE) Multidisciplinary Team Meeting (MDT), recently concluded in Addis Ababa, echoed a unified message: science, innovation, and digitalization stand as the cornerstones for elevating agricultural production and enhancing livelihood resilience across Eastern Africa.

Government representatives from seven East African countries, including Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia, and Uganda, convened to confront a dire reality.

Eastern Africa, plagued by unprecedented drought, faced a staggering food crisis. As of 2023, nearly 20 million people in countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia grappled with hunger, underscoring the urgency of the situation.

Minister of Agriculture for the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, H.E Girma Amente, emphasized the pivotal role of science, innovation, and technology in addressing the region’s food security challenges.

He cited Ethiopia’s recent success in wheat production, a testament to the transformative power of innovation.

The meeting delved into the need for agricultural evolution, aiming to shield livelihoods from droughts and enhance food security.

Acknowledging the predominance of rain-fed agriculture, the outgoing Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa, Chimimba David Phiri, underscored the necessity for innovation to navigate the hurdles imposed by climate change and recurring droughts.

Amidst these challenges, Phiri highlighted the opportunities within the digital revolution. Digital agriculture emerged as a beacon of hope, offering a unique avenue for transforming the agricultural landscape.

By investing in digital technologies, Eastern Africa can not only enhance agricultural productivity but also engage the burgeoning youth population, shaping the future of agriculture in the region.

Blending tradition and technology

Integrated farming systems and Regenerative Agriculture emerged as beacons of hope. These innovative practices represent a harmonious blend of tradition and technology, promising increased farm income while conserving the environment.

Furthermore, the livestock sector, teeming with potential, beckoned attention. Strategic investments in livestock feed and related issues were identified as crucial steps toward fortifying the sector against climate shocks.

In the backdrop of these discussions, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, Abebe Haile Gabriel, emphasized the need to scale up innovative initiatives.

He stressed the importance of effective collaboration, partnerships, and concerted actions. These, he believed, were the linchpins in transforming agrifood systems and building resilience in Eastern Africa.

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