May 19

Viewpoint: COVID-19 Response Must Target African Ag and the Rural Poor

By Olusegun Obasanjo and Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe

Africa has so far escaped the worst health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the continent looks like it could be the worst hit from the economic fallout of the crisis: 80 million Africans could be pushed into extreme poverty if action is not taken. Disruptions in food systems raise the prospect of more Africans falling into hunger. Rural people, many of whom work on small-scale farms, are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of the crisis. It is therefore vital that the COVID-19 response address food security and target the rural poor.

At this time, the international development agenda is prioritizing health, economies and infrastructure. But there must also be a focus on food security, agribusiness and rural development. This is especially important on the African continent.

Agriculture contributes to 65 percent of Africa’s employment and 75 percent of its domestic trade. Now the rich potential of agriculture as a tool to promote food security and fight poverty is at risk from the effects of COVID-19.

Photo courtesy of Neil Palmer.

Source: Africa Times (link opens in a new window)

Agriculture, Coronavirus
food security, rural development, smallholder farmers