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Agriculture - Nutrition | Economy - Development

Call for common African food market

afrol News, 10 March - At the African agriculture summit in Abuja, the proposal of creating a common Africa market of strategic food and agricultural commodities achieved much attention. A scheme that could boost African agriculture was presented.

The presentation of a common African food market at the Abuja summit was made by the UN's Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). Josue Dione of UNECA said African countries should agree on potential regional belts for the production and processing of strategic food and agricultural commodities based on agro-ecological comparative advantage and the dynamics of the Regional Economic Commodities.

Mr Dione presented a report, titled "Agricultural input business development in Africa: Opportunities, issues and challenges". The UNECA was launched at an event on the sides of the high level summit on agri-business and agro-industries, which entered a ministerial segment yesterday.

Stating that these steps would deepen regional integration and promote the development of coordinated value chains of strategic food and agricultural commodities, Mr Dione called for the creation or strengthening of existing regional centres of excellence for agricultural research and development along the value chain of strategic commodities.

He called on countries in the region to invest in trade infrastructure and facilitation to lower the cost and raise competitiveness in regional and international markets by mainstreaming NEPAD infrastructure corridor and spatial development initiatives into the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) regional implementation strategy.

Mr Dione also called for the promotion of public-private partnerships for infrastructure in the strategic commodity belts, the establishment of a regional agricultural market information system, the enhancement of agricultural trade facilitation mechanisms and improved international trade advocacy and negotiation skills.

To finance the development of strategic commodity value chains, Mr Dione called for the establishment of mechanisms to fund investment in regional public goods and services for agricultural transformation, the establishment of agribusiness joint venture fairs and the promotion of agricultural investment forums and enterprise development platforms.

The UNECA representative called for strengthening the commercial and technical capacities of farmer organisations and trade associations through the enhancement of their participation in strategic agricultural value chain development. Smallholder farmers should also be linked to medium/large-scale agribusiness enterprises through innovative contractual arrangements, he said.

The three-day high level summit in the Nigerian capital ended today with the heads of state segment, which considered the ministerial outcomes on various aspects of agribusiness and agro-industries development, for endorsement.

Several state leaders picked up on the ideas launched by UNECA. Sierra Leonean President Ernest Koroma today at the summit called for a regional approach to tackling common agricultural challenges, in addition to committed country efforts aimed at poverty reduction and employment generation especially for women and youths.

The summit adopted the "Abuja Declaration on development of Agribusiness and agro-industries in Africa", which endorsed the African Agribusiness and Agro-Industries Development Initiative, urging African nations to establish the requisite legal, regulatory and institutional framework to support agribusiness and agro-industry development; take measures to foster improved financing of agriculture value-chain by banks and donor agencies, among other resolutions.

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