More than 100 participants gathered in Brussels on October 17 to discuss the EC communication on “Advancing African Agriculture.”
From the European Commission, Lluis Riera focussed on three aspects: the rationale of the ‘triple A”; its key messages; and the mechanisms facilitating partnerships in the implementation.
The “AAA” initiative starts from the recognition that Africa cannot reach the MDGs if support to agriculture is not reinforced. It is vital to overcome the recent neglect of agriculture in development cooperation – in this regard the recent attention to agriculture by the World Bank is a positive sign; the CAADP process is a key instrument to achieve change.
The key message of the ‘triple A’ is that the main playing fields for advancing African agriculture are the national and regional level, where all relevant stakeholders must be involved. Institutional strengthening and capacity building in regional economic communities and farmers associations are essential to make sure that participation is timely and meaningful. Further, the initiative considers agriculture and rural development with an holistic approach, combining agricultural policy with health, education and research. Last but not least, there is a clear need to enhance donor coordination and ensure division of tasks: the EU is working with other donors to assure this, but also NGOs and the private sector have to play their part.
As far as implementation is concerned, Mr. Riera underlined two major aspects. At policy level, the initiative may become a key instrument to foster dialogue and reflection at national level, especially through the CAADP task force and the involvement of NGOs and the private sector.
On the other side, in terms of financial assistance, both the 10th EDF and the Food Security Thematic Programme foresee an increasing allocation of resources for agriculture and rural development, also in terms of research support, information sharing and institutional strengthening. A commodity action plan was launched just yesterday.
Lastly, Mr. Reira reminded participants that the EU is more than the Commission: the hope is that Member States will back up the AAA and will increase support agriculture in Africa. The ‘triple A’ is “just one step; what is needed now is progress on the ground.”
Lluis Riera reflects on a holistic approach to agriculture and rural development
See more from the 17 October briefing