First Lady, counterparts at summit to help mothers end children’s food crisis

29 Nov, 2022 - 00:11 0 Views
First Lady, counterparts at summit to help mothers end children’s food crisis First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa is welcomed by the Vice Chair Mrs Fukuyo Nakamori, who could not hide her admiration of Dr Mnangagwa’s beads, while the chairman Ms Seiko Hashimoto looks on during the 1st Asia Pacific Africa Women’s Economic Exchange Summit in Tokyo, Japan, yesterday.

The Herald

Tendai Rupapa in TOKYO, Japan

FIRST Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa yesterday joined First Ladies of other nations across the globe at the inaugural Asia Pacific Africa Women’s Economic Exchange Summit which seeks to achieve food self-sufficiency for the future of children living in their regions.

The summit, which was planned five years ago, but had been postponed three times due to the effects of Covid-19, is discussing the creation of a mutual cooperation system through the supplying of food in the event of disasters such as earthquakes and those caused by climate change like droughts, storms and floods.

It is being held under the theme: “To cope with food crisis for the future of children by mothers”.

Back home, the First Lady is working hard to prevent food challenges by promoting the establishment of nutrition gardens in schools and communities.

Through her Angel of Hope Foundation, she also runs a school feeding programme to ensure no child misses or pulls out of school due to food challenges.

Amai Mnangagwa is encouraging the production of traditional grains which are drought-resistance and rich in nutritional and medicinal properties to mitigate the effects of climate change.

First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa is greeted by Ms Seiko Hashimoto, the chairman of the Asia Pacific Africa Women’s Economic Exchange Summit, while vice chair Mrs Fukuyo Nakamori, Ugandan Prime Minister Ms Robinah Nabbanja (partly obscured) and the wife to Tanzanian Prime Minister Mrs Mbawala Mary Benjamin look on in Tokyo, Japan, yesterday.

As Agric4She patron, the First Lady is giving out inputs and in partnership with relevant stakeholders, she is providing technical advice for women to grow crops as an empowerment initiative to ensure food self-sufficiency and to supplement incomes.

In her address, Dr Mnangagwa said the theme underpins the great importance of ensuring that nations pursue the attainment of food security in a manner that encourages sustainable development and environmental management to safeguard the well-being of future generations.

“This summit takes place at a time when some nations in the Asia-Pacific region and Africa are facing food challenges due to natural disasters such as droughts and floods. It is unfortunate and undesirable that we continue to bear witness to increased conflicts which undermine development efforts and disrupt economic activities including the agriculture sector, thereby causing food insecurities,” she said.

Zimbabwe, the First Lady said, has an agro-based economy and agriculture was key to achieving food security as it had a direct impact on livelihoods of the majority and was the most reliable pathway out of poverty for many households.

“The majority of the Zimbabwean population is engaged in some agricultural activity, one way or the other. This presents a huge opportunity to empower these communities through capacitating them on better farming methods and agriculture mechanisation to increase productivity and output production.

“Zimbabwe continues to prioritise food and nutrition security. In this regard, a raft of policies supported through the national fiscus have been put in place towards reforming, mechanising and modernising agriculture,” she said.

Dr Mnangagwa said like in many other countries, Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector had been adversely affected by what has been coined the three Cs – climate change, Covid-19 and conflict.

Both state and none state actors, she said, needed to scale up efforts to exchange views and ideas on how to enhance food security to promote a shared prosperous future for all mankind. This includes protecting and advancing the rights of children, including the right to food.

“We have an obligation to end hunger, improve food and nutrition security and promote sustainable agriculture. It is against this background that I established the Angel of Hope Foundation in February 2018 with the primary objective of assisting marginalised and vulnerable members of the community, in particular women and children.

“The foundation has made significant progress in that regard and has been expanding its scope, targeting more communities around the country. The Angel of Hope Foundation has ventured into horticultural farming to expand its participation in empowerment of farming communities. 

“I have introduced Agric4She encouraging all women in Zimbabwe to embark on farming. Thereby encouraging consumption of traditional foods to curb malnutrition in children and promote healthy eating for all,” she said.

First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa addresses her counterparts and other delegates during the 1st Asia Pacific Africa Women’s Economic Exchange Summit in Tokyo, Japan, yesterday.

The Foundation, Dr Mnangagwa said, welcomes strategic and smart partnerships with the private sector and international development partners to enhance development of the agriculture sector, including better adaptation to climate change effects as well as boosting food production to achieve food security and self-sufficiency.

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“My foundation is happy to start a new journey with Japanese partners and other organisations. The Government of Zimbabwe, through the National Development Strategy 1 has undertaken a number of initiatives to stimulate agricultural production in the country in line with the Vision 2030 of becoming an upper middle income economy. 

“There is strong political will and commitment to ensure inclusive development for all the people of Zimbabwe.

“The National Development Strategy 1 and Rural Development 8.0 programme target to treble agriculture by 2030. The Agriculture Transformation Strategy targets increasing the outcomes of farming communities and make agriculture an attractive sector. 

“Among these initiatives are various Presidential Input schemes targeting small-scale farmers in cereals and oils, cotton, fisheries, goats and poultry production,” she said.

Dr Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was climate-proofing its agriculture to mitigate the effects of climate change which had destabilised food systems and worsened food insecurity.

She said she welcomed the partnership with the Government of Japan which saw Zimbabwe launching its first satellite, ZimSat 1.

“The satellite will enhance meteorological services, thereby improving weather forecasting and assist farmers to better prepare for the next farming season. 

“In this vein, I wish to thank the Japanese Government, through JICA, for assisting communal farmers in Hurungwe District in setting up eight nutrition gardens with solar-powered boreholes, water tanks and drip irrigation facilities. Training of women on climate-smart agriculture and growing produce for income-generation is also commended,” she said.

The First Lady reiterated that women were key participants in agriculture, both as extension officers and farmers, and in the attainment of food security and nutrition.

African First Ladies, their representatives and Japanese delegates follow proceedings during the 1st Asia Pacific Africa Women’s Economic Exchange Summit in Tokyo, Japan, yesterday.

“Going into the future, it is my submission that we must build relations beyond First Ladies forums. We must have women and children exchange programmes sharing experiences, taking advantage of ICTs as critical enablers. I therefore invite you to my country Zimbabwe which boasts one of the seven wonders of the world,” she said.

Chairperson of the summit, Mrs Seiko Hashimoto said she was thrilled that the summit had been a success this year after three postponements due to Covid-19.

“It has been five years since we planned this summit. The meeting was postponed three times due to Covid-19. I am thrilled to be with you and sharing the same table. I am looking forward to fruitful discussions. The key philosophy underlying today’s summit is ‘helping each other’. 

“We are convinced that this summit will be an opportunity for the mothers from different countries gathered to share our steadfast resolution to ‘safeguard a bright future for children’ By doing so we hope to provide substantial support for the children of Africa and every child on earth,” she said.

Co-chairperson Mr Geng Hong paid tribute to all First Ladies for the great work they do across nations.

“I want to thank all First Ladies as mothers of nations. A mother’s love is deeper than the ocean. Let us work together, let us make progress and make it happen. Let us use this opportunity to deepen exchanges with each other,” he said.

Mrs Sachiko Imoto, senior vice president of Japan International Cooperation (JICA) “Initiatives for Food for children” gave an overview of how Jica was working with African countries. 

“With the annual budget of US$15 billion to 143 beneficiary countries, Jica is counted as one of the largest bilateral donor agencies. Our ultimate goal being to achieve human security. 

“In Africa our work spans healthcare, industrial development, education, agriculture, infrastructure, conservation and peace building. While our grant and finance investment cooperation focuses more on infrastructure development, our technical cooperation covers variety of sectors providing support to policy planning, implementation and human resource development from community levels to central Government levels. 

“From 2019 to 2021 Jica trained 23 000 people in healthcare and 260 000 people in industry and job creation. In agriculture sector we supported 32 million tonnes of annual rice production. We also provided quality education to 6 million children. 

“With pandemics like Covid-19, climate change, Africa is facing multiple challenges. The Impact of climate change is severe. Africa must not be left behind. Fighting malnutrition in children is a crucial piece in building human security,” she said. 

She said Japan has the longest life expectancy in the world because of nutrition and this can be shared with other countries.

First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa with Gambian First Lady Fatoumata Bah Barrow and Malawian First Lady Mrs Monica Chakwera during the 1st Asia Pacific Africa Women’s Economic Exchange Summit in Tokyo, Japan, yesterday. – Pictures: John Manzongo.

Mr Toshihiro Nikai, the supreme advisor, spelt out the need for collaborations by all countries to mitigate effects of climate change. 

“Therefore this summit is a step in the right direction. Your commitment as mothers to brighten the future of our children is applauded,” he said.

Gambian First Lady, Mrs Fatoumatta Bah Barrow, said she was pleased that First Ladies were meeting as mothers to discuss common matters to do with food security.

First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa interacts with the wife of Tanzanian Prime Minister Mrs Mbawala Mary Benjamini during the 1st Asia Pacific Africa Women’s Economic Exchange Summit in Tokyo, Japan, yesterday.

“It is important to raise awareness because children will be affected if we fold our hands. Global food crisis is putting children at risk and malnutrition is the biggest killer in children throughout the world.

“Due to climate change, it has become a great challenge to farmers because the rains are now unpredictable. The world should be realistic in coping with food crisis. Urgent measures need to be put in place. We need to strengthen our agricultural sector for the sake of our children who are our future leaders. There is need to urgently increase farming activities in our countries,” she said. 

Malawian First Lady Monica Chakwera described the forum as a historic summit deliberating challenges children face. 

“Climate change has caused drought, storms, floods thus leading to food insecurity. I believe that through this gathering, we will share ideas to undertake in our countries for the betterment of our children and the nation at large. 

“Malawi has potential to be bread basket of the world, but there is a challenge of climate change which has a negative impact on food security. We need to make agriculture the backbone of our countries’ economies. Malawi is spearheading programmes that boost agricultural activities. 

“The Malawi government is giving inputs to farmers and this has helped get higher yields than in previous years. Seeing children going to bed hungry is tragic, it is a tragedy we should not turn a blind eye. 

First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa interacts with the wife of the Prime Minister of Democratic Republic of Congo Mrs Gido Samalokonde (right) while Mrs Kezina Sibanda (centre) look on during the 1st Asia Pacific Africa Women’s Economic Exchange Summit in Tokyo, Japan, yesterday.

“Food insecurity is a crisis therefore special attention must be given. In Malawi women play a major role in the agriculture sector. Therefore, we need to involve women in economic development. Your neighbour’s child is also your child, therefore we welcome this summit as Malawi because the ideas shared will help all the children around the world,” she said.

Other First Ladies and representatives from Japan, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Congo and Gabon also attended the summit and shared their views.

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