SIAL and Djazagro address challenges faced by North Africa agri-food systems
Climate upheavals and disruptions to supply chains are creating a food crisis around the world. Although this is affecting the Maghreb less than the rest of Africa, it nevertheless calls for the region’s agricultural self-sufficiency to be strengthened. SIAL and its affiliate show Djazagro are especially important in this context as major events that enable important partner networking and look at more resilient crop varieties in the face of climate change as well as new technologies to help alleviate supply disruptions.
Africa is one of the continents most affected by climate change. While international institutions acknowledge that food insecurity is less acute in Maghreb countries than in other parts of Africa, it nevertheless calls for the region’s agricultural self-sufficiency to be strengthened.
The annual report by FAO (the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations), in cooperation with IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development), the World Food Programme, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF, takes stock of developments in food security around the world. The report calls for greater and better-targeted action to achieve the goal of eliminating hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030.
The report notes that, after the global pandemic of Covid-19, the world is now grappling with the consequences of the war between Russia and Ukraine. This has shaken the food and energy markets. By 2021, one or both of these countries will be among the world’s top three exporters of wheat, maize, rapeseed, sunflower meal and sunflower oil. Other destabilising factors include crises resulting from regional conflicts and extreme weather events.
The FAO Food Price Index has increased steadily since mid‐2020 and surged by 12.6% from February to March 2022, reaching its highest historical level. International food and fertiliser prices have since declined but remained at a relatively high level.
Taken together, these factors are disrupting the ability of agri-food systems to provide everyone with cheap, nutritious food that is safe for their health.
Food insecurity affects the Maghreb less than the rest of Africa
According to the FAO report, the prevalence of undernourishment in Africa is marked by increases in Southern Africa and North Africa. The number of people suffering from hunger in Africa has risen by 11 million since 2021, and by more than 57 million since the start of the covid-19 pandemic. However, it remains lower in North Africa compared to the rest of the continent.
North Africa remains the sub-region with the lowest rate of people suffering from food insecurity. And if we refer to the data provided by the FAO by country, the Maghreb remains less affected than the entire North African sub-region.
Over the period 2020-2022, the percentage of undernourished people in the Maghreb was less than 2.5% in Algeria, 3% in Tunisia, 6.3% in Morocco and 8.4% in Libya. Libya’s relatively high rate of persons suffering from hunger is due to instability within the country due to political divisions. Finally, in Egypt, food insecurity affected 7.2% of the population over this period.
How Djazagro is tackling issues faced by the agri-food sector in North Africa
The increase in food insecurity in the Maghreb and North Africa is calling on governments to redouble their efforts to diversify their agricultural resources and find new technologies and methods to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis. As well as ensuring food self-sufficiency to avoid over-dependence on major export markets. This is Algeria’s ambitious programme for greater self-sufficiency in cereals, for example. It has been already adressed at Djazagro, SIAL’s show in Algeria, which targets North-African markets. Much like at SIAL, Djazagro showcases innovations in the agricultural sector which have been rewarded by Djaz’innov.
At the 2023 edition, the show organised a presentation and debate on eco-design and locavorism (eating locally) trends in the Experts’ Agora. These are developments that are having an impact on geostrategic issues, calling for innovative agri-tech solutions tailored to the structural reorganisation of the agri-food sector in Algeria. A sector that also serves as a benchmark for the rest of the Maghreb.