The 4th AFSA Biennial Food Systems Conference was held in Yaoundé, Cameroon, from 28-30 November 2022 under the title “Mobilising African Food Policy and Action for Healthy Food Systems.” The conference brought together 170 participants from 27 countries.
Held in the African Union Year of Nutrition, the conference aimed to mobilise African citizens and governments to demand changes in food policies and implement urgent actions for healthy, nutritious and inclusive food systems.
The event was held under the patronage of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Cameroon. Altogether, around 500 participants attended different phases of the event: conferencing, field visits, exhibitions, culinary activities, and a cultural evening.
Keynote presentations by nutrition and food systems experts, followed by debates, group work and plenary feedback, led to a series of recommendations:
- African Governments should become strategic partners in strengthening the institutional capacities of farming communities to pursue agroecology, which enhances food production, improves incomes, and provides nutrition security for local communities at low costs.
- African governments should prioritize agroecology to build resilience in food systems in the face of crises such as the covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
- The African Union Commission should prioritize the development of a Food Systems Policy anchored on African cultural foods and dishes, recognizing their value to people’s health and nutritional security.
- Donors should direct funding towards upscaling the My food is African campaign, aligning policies and programmes towards the transition to agroecology.
- Health experts, teachers, citizens, religious leaders, traditional leaders, institutions of learning, performing artists, media, fishers, pastoralists, MPs, state actors, academics, entrepreneurs, cooperatives, dieticians and consumer associations should help ensure more people embrace healthy and culturally appropriate food.
The event officially launched the “My Food Is African” campaign to inspire African people to demand traditional foods, dishes, diets and cuisines. The conference also marked the publication of the new barefoot guide, “My Food is African: Healthy Soil, Safe Foods, and Diverse Diets.” The guide aims to spark people’s interest in learning about Africa’s unique, delicious, and healthy foods and cultures and foster a safer, healthier, and more sustainable path to food sovereignty.
In addition, press and social media communications mobilised food policy actors in the host country, across Africa, and beyond.
AFSA, through the success of this conference, demonstrated its capacity to mobilise a diversity of actors to constitute a movement for the improvement of food systems in Africa and to challenge politicians to elaborate more sovereign and healthier food and nutrition policies.