Former UN chief Kofi Annan on Saturday called for a "green revolution" involving alliances between African governments and farmers to alleviate hunger in the world's poorest continent.
"We are aiming at a green revolution to treble food security in five years," Annan, who launched the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) earlier this year, told a news conference on the sidelines of the EU-Africa summit.
"If we are going to succeed we have to work together as governments, civil society and a whole range of other partners. Africa can achieve its food security.
"We are going to work throughout the continent. If we really work together we should be able to make a difference. Seventy percent of the population in Africa lives on farming. We believe agriculture can be an engine for development," said Annan, a Ghanaian who served two terms as UN secretary general.
While at least 70 per cent of the continent's population lives in farming areas, most countries in Africa often do not produce enough to feed their populations.
AGRA aims to lobby African governments to join forces with small-scale farmers "to bring about a rapid and sustainable green revolution" to enhance food production, and is conducting studies in 13 countries, Annan said.
Namanga Ngongi, the president of AGRA, said agriculture has been declining in Africa and the project seeks to improve seed quality, soil fertility and marketing of produce.
Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika pledged his support.
"We do need a green revolution to progress from poverty to prosperity," he said. "It's important that the green revolution gives us food. A nation that goes begging for food cannot claim to be sovereign."
A total of 67 heads of state or government are attending the two-day EU-Africa summit that began Saturday in the Portuguese capital in what organisers hope will result in a more equal partnership between the former colonial powers and Africa.