Food for Thought: Dar es Salaam Emerges as Epicenter of Africa’s Agri-revolution

Amidst the bustling streets and historical sites of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s economic capital, there is a palpable excitement in the air. Over 4,000 attendees have descended upon this thriving city for the 13th annual Africa Food Systems Forum from local farmers to international delegates.

Under the radiant leadership of President H.E Samia Suluhu Hassan, Dar es Salaam is poised to become the central hub for discussions about Africa’s food systems over the next four days. It’s an event that isn’t just about addressing hunger and nutrition but transforming the way the continent approaches agriculture and sustainability.

What stands out most about this year’s theme, Recover, Regenerate, Act: Africa’s Solutions to Food Systems Transformation, is the emphasis on solutions forged in Africa, by Africans. It is a significant departure from past forums that may have leaned more towards global, one-size-fits-all solutions.

Women and youth have taken center stage this year, and rightly so. As Minister Hussein Bashe declared, the future of African agriculture rests heavily on these two demographics. They bring fresh ideas, resilience, and an innate understanding of local nuances.

“Traditionally, women have been the backbone of our agricultural landscape,” said Dr. Jane Omanga, an agribusiness expert attending the Forum. “By empowering them, we are not only acknowledging their contribution but harnessing a force that can exponentially propel our food systems forward.”

Couple this with the dynamism and tech-savvy nature of the African youth, and you have a recipe for innovation. Tanzania’s “Building a Better Tomorrow: Youth Initiative for Agribusiness (BBT-YIA)” is evidence of this new direction. The government’s push to train and support youth-led agribusinesses is addressing food security and unemployment, a significant issue faced by many African countries.

With the looming shadow of climate change, the forum couldn’t be more timely. The discussions held in Dar es Salaam will undoubtedly influence the global dialogue at COP 28. The world will be watching closely to see what commitments African Heads of States will pledge.

The diversity is evident as you navigate the vibrant corridors of the Forum. From Moroccan agronomists to South African tech innovators, a rich tapestry of ideas and solutions are woven together. And as Amath Pathe Sene, the Managing Director of the Africa Food Systems Forum, eloquently put it, the transformation has to come from within the continent, rooted in our history, culture, and understanding.

Just as “Dar es Salaam” means “Haven of Peace,” modern pursuits highlight food security as a foundational pillar for peace and development. Without secure access to food, nations grapple with instability and unrest. Conversely, achieving food security paves the way for communities’ socio-economic growth, peace, and prosperity. In a sense, striving for food security is akin to building our own contemporary “Havens of Peace” globally.