Dakar 2 Summit - Feed Africa: Food Sovereignty and Resilience
25 January 2023
Your Excellency Macky Sall, President of Senegal and Chairperson of the African Union,
Your Excellency Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my distinct privilege and honor to join you today.
Thank you for convening this important, timely and urgent meeting at a time when the world is facing an unprecedented food crisis.
Despite recent falls, food prices are still near historic heights, about 30 per cent higher than they were before COVID.
This food affordability crisis has meant that acute food insecurity has tripled in three years to almost 350 million people, and that six countries in the world are in a state of famine – four of them in Africa.
Making matters worse, rising interest rates are hurting African currencies, making food imports even more expensive.
To give you an example, Ethiopia is now paying about 180 per cent more for wheat than in 2020 – and almost half of that increase is due to currency depreciation against the Dollar.
Another factor making this crisis much worse is what we call the fertilizer market crunch.
Today fertilizer prices are more than twice and half times their pre-pandemic level, which is having brutal distributive effects, both within and among countries.
For a typical North American farmer, for example, fertilizers represent around ten percent of their production costs.
The equivalent figure in West Africa is 56 per cent. So, when prices rise, some suffer more, much more, than others.
This phenomenon is affecting the whole continent.
The International Fertilizer Association expected a one-fifth decline in fertilizer demand in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2022.
This means farmers are sowing less, or using less fertilizers in their lands, at the worst possible time, in the middle of a hunger crisis, and in the worst possible places, in the countries where food insecurity is rising.
Without urgent action, the food affordability crisis of 2022 may become a food availability crisis this year, bringing global hunger and poverty to levels unseen in the 21st century.
The United Nations remains committed to facilitating the unimpeded trade in fertilizers and food, as part of our negotiations with Ukraine, Türkiye and the Russian Federation in the Istanbul Agreements for Grains and Fertilizers.
The Istanbul agreements have become an important pillar for food security in Africa. And these agreements wouldn’t have been possible without the hard-work and support of the African Union and its chairperson, His Excellency Macky Sall.
ladies and gentlemen,
Please be assured that the United Nations will spare no efforts on this and other food security challenges in Africa.
This is our most important mission.
We will continue to work on it and to be helpful to support the countries of the world to avoid a food insecurity crisis in 2023.