African leaders have ‘vowed’ to invest aggressively in agriculture in the aim of ending hunger and cutting poverty in half by 2025, the African Union said early this week.

The pledge was made at the 23rd Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

“Accelerated growth is essential if Africans at all levels are to achieve their aspirations for prosperity,” AU chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said.

Despite boasting vast swaths of arable land, sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s most starving place, where the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that 239 million people were hungry or undernourished in 2010.

More than 925 million people were thought to be hungry worldwide in 2010.

Therefore, Dlamini-Zuma, a former South African cabinet minister, launched a desperate plea to the continent’s heads of state and governments, saying “It is time for heads of state to put agriculture at the top of national development agendas and lead the way on a sure path to development for their people.

Prosperity is within reach – it’s in our hands,” the former wife of South African President Jacob Zuma added.

The AU said African leaders have committed to new priorities, strategies and concrete targets around agriculture-led growth to achieve food and nutrition security for shared prosperity for their people.

The new targets will push governments to move faster in creating a policy and infrastructure environment in which agriculture can thrive and generate income opportunities at all levels, the Addis-Ababa-based organisation pointed out.

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