AU Commissioner Appeals for Agriculture Boost

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African Union (AU) Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, the Angolan national Josefa Sacko, has encouraged, in  African states to make big investments in the agricultural sector in order to reverse the trend of food importation.

According to the official, the investment of the states in this sector must be aligned with the Malabo Declaration, which identifies seven priority areas for the transformation of agriculture and socio-economic development of the continent. The Malabo Declaration, approved by African Heads of State and Government in June 2014, gave a new boost to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), launched in 2003.

Securing specific investment and growth targets for the agricultural sector in Africa, CAADP has become a promotion tool that has helped to align countries and their development partners towards a set of common objectives. “We want to stop the issue of importing agricultural products,” said the Angolan national and AU Commissioner.

She went on to say that in order to reverse this trend, AU member states must implement CAADP, a programme that aims to improve productivity and diversify crops, with a view to nutritional security. She made it known that Africa is the part of the globe with the highest amounts of arable lands. “We have 60 percent of the potential to produce for ourselves and to export our production”.

Josefa Sacko indicated that they are engaged in reducing food imports, through the strategy and support programmes for the organization’s member states. She noted, however, that her department does not finance programmes, but establishes policies, strategies and works with member states, as well as with regional economic communities to align decisions taken at AU level, to secure budgetary allocations.

According to the interlocutor, if the national development programme does is not aligned with these indicators, it is not possible to have a budgetary allocation for projects implementation. Josefa Sacko also made it known that Malabo’s commitments and national development plans for the department she runs have been successful in recent years. She said that there are currently about 28 countries that have already aligned their national investment plans for the agricultural sector.

The second edition to evaluate the programmes of the department she leads with the prime minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, as the leader of the theme of agriculture in Africa, took place last Monday at the African Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa. In concrete terms, she indicated that the implementation of the common agricultural transformation programme on the continent is around 60%.

The African Union’s Committee on Rural Economy and Agriculture launched, last year, the agricultural mechanization campaign in rural areas, with the support of the European Union.

“We want to take the hard work out of rural women and empower them with more modern technology that is, moving from subsistence agriculture to mechanized agriculture through the value chain,” she noted.

She said that this is the focus to be followed to reduce poverty and create more jobs, with a view to food security on the continent.

According to the AU commissioner, most of the population of the 55 African countries lives in rural areas, exemplifying the case of Ethiopia with more than 100 million inhabitants, 70 percent of who live in rural areas.

As part of the AU reform process, the department she runs has been assigned to take care of the “blue economy”, linked to marine products. On the sidelines of the event of the 33rd AU Summit, her department met with Norway’s prime minister, Erna Soubert, who has supported the development of the continental strategy for the blue economy, for the sustainable exploration of the oceans, rivers and lakes.

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