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23rd AU Summit: Agriculture and Food Security, critical priority for Africa

July 7, 2014

The African Union Summit was held on July 26 and 27, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea under the theme, "Transforming Africa's agriculture for shared prosperity and improved livelihoods; harnessing opportunities for inclusive growth and sustainable development". It is also the celebration of 2014 AU Year of Agriculture and Food and Nutrition Security and the commemoration of the 10 year anniversary since the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) was adopted.

"Agriculture occupies a priority place in Africa's economy, and has no other equivalent in combating poverty." said The Chairperson of the African Union, Mauritania's President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, while opening the summit. However, he challenged member states to think more strategically to do more, given that 10 years after the adoption of the CAADP, the results were still below set indicators.

Addressing the theme of the 23rd AU Summit, Dr. Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission, reiterated that agriculture and agribusinesses are critical to the empowerment of people, especially women and youth. "Employing the latest technology and modern machines in farming will attract more young women and men into the industry", she added. So, the Summit debate looked at the practical actions necessary to achieve this, including modernizing and mechanizing agriculture. The AUC Chairperson called for more access to land and credit facilities as concrete support to women, who constitute the majority of the population engaged in farming.

During the presentation of the theme of the year, H.E. Mrs Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture indicated that, the projected increase of global population from 7.2 billion today to 9.6 billion by 2050, necessitates an increment of food production globally by at least 60%. And since Africa is home to a population that is increasing the fastest, Africa's demand for food is projected to almost triple by 2050, increasing by 178% compared to 89% in India and 31% in China. This demand is triggered, in addition to population growth, by rapid urbanization and income growth.

Driving Africa's agricultural transformation requires active participation from international partners such as CTA, which provide farming communities in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) with vital skills to improve agricultural productivity, sustainability and market access. In the last 30 years, CTA has been the partner of choice for those working to empower agricultural and rural communities in ACP countries with the knowledge and skills they need to fight poverty and hunger.

"CTA has closely aligned its programmes with the priorities identified through the CAADP process and it has intensified its work in key areas such as inclusive value chain development, improving access to finance, ICT capacity building, and supporting youth agripreneurs across the continent.", said Michael Hailu, director of CTA.

According to him, "The Summit demonstrates the serious political commitment that African leaders are showing to transforming agriculture as a major engine for economic and social development on the continent."