He was addressing an online tripartite meeting of African Ministers responsible for agriculture, trade and finance - the first meeting of its kind in response to the COVID-19 emergency, convened by the African Union Commission with technical support from FAO.
The director-general welcomed the crosscutting collaboration between the three portfolios, saying the challenges stemming from the pandemic are multi-dimensional, complex and intertwined and require a holistic, comprehensive and coordinated response by multiple stakeholders and partners.
Some 80 Ministers and other representatives from over 50 countries attended the meeting, as well as representatives from (in alphabetical order) the African Development Bank, the European Commission, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the private sector, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the World Bank, the World Food Programme and other partners.
COVID-19 cases, hunger, rising in Africa
Cases of COVID-19 have been reported in 54 African countries. Across the continent, more than 850,000 cases have been recorded, and more than 17,000 deaths.
Director-general QU told participants that several African countries are on the frontline of an impending hunger crisis driven by COVID-19. In these hotspot countries, high levels of food insecurity and acute hunger were stark realities even before COVID-19 because of overlapping shocks including transboundary pests and diseases, conflicts and climate extremes such as droughts and floods.
According to QU, the solution lies in taking bold actions through pursuing radically changed approaches to transforming food systems, making healthy diets affordable and driving progress towards ending poverty, hunger and all forms of malnutrition.