Severe underfunding of Africa's agriculture and food sectors may cause food insecurity and hamper the development of countries across the continent, the UN agriculture chief warned on Monday.
Speaking at the launch of the Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Public Expenditure on Food and Agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa report, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said funds must be unlocked and public finance systems streamlined so "the scarce resources we have do not go unspent."
"Let's unblock the bottlenecks that are holding back potential by increasing coordination and upskilling human capacity in African nations," the UN News website quoted Dongyu as saying.
Citing "rigorous analysis over the last 15 years, made possible thanks to strong collaboration with our members in the region," Dongyu said the report reveals a gap between long-standing political pledges and the financial realities facing 13 sub-Saharan states.
Only Malawi and Mali spent the pledged 10% of their national budgets on the food and agriculture sectors, said the report.
African Union member states pledged to fuel social and economic growth by promising to spend 10% of their budgets on food and agriculture, but according to the UN, "this undertaking remains unfulfilled."
The report said Benin, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Burundi, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Uganda and Tanzania have never met this pledge.
Considering that agriculture in those countries "is being implicitly penalized," the report said the food and agriculture sectors hover at only 3% of those countries' national budgets.