New York, US - The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on Saturday welcomed a new commitment by African leaders to end hunger on the continent by 2025, and pledged its support as they work to 'transform vision into reality'.
The African leaders on Friday adopted the target at the just concluded African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
FAO Director-General, Mr. Jose Graziano da Silva said this was the first time in history that African leaders had made such a strong pledge to eliminate hunger and it was also a show of confidence that, working together, we could win the fight against hunger in Africa in our lifetimes.
He said Africa was witnessing economic growth of unprecedented proportions, but it was also the only continent in the world where the total number of hungry people had gone up since 1990.
He said that the challenge now was to transform the vision of a food-secure Africa into reality by tackling the multiple causes of hunger.
'Investing in agriculture, creating safety nets and social protection for the poor, guaranteeing the right of access to land and water resources and targeting small-holder famers and young people will be key,' Mr. Graziano da Silva noted.
He added that FAO would continue to support Africa in its efforts to eradicate hunger.
The FAO chief commended the leadership of the AU Commission and Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in taking this process forward, calling the measure a 'fully Africa-owned effort'.
According to FAO, 11 African countries have already met the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) hunger target to reduce by half the proportion of hungry people between 1990 and 2015.
It said that countries were Algeria, Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Djibouti, Ghana, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Príncipe, and Togo.
It also said that three countries, namely Djibouti, Ghana, and Sao Tome and Principe, had also met the even more ambitious 1996 World Food Summit goal to reduce by half the total number of hungry.
'This is clear evidence that African countries are moving in the right direction,' Mr. Graziano da Silva added.
The new 2025 AU target aligns the continent with the Zero Hunger Challenge launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2012.
The governments, international organisations, civil society and the private sector agreed on the target as a means of promoting concrete actions that build upon the momentum of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).