Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - For most of African countries, agriculture constitutes the development battlefield where they can win the war on poverty, hunger and indignity, the newly-elected African Union Chairperson, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, said here Thursday.
Launching the continent’s 2014 Year of Agriculture and Food Security, a ceremony that was attended by African heads of state and government as well as heads of international organisations, Aziz said that nearly a quarter of African populations were vulnerable to challenges of malnutrition despite the remarkable performance of agriculture in their economies.
The Mauritanian leader called on his colleagues to seize the year “as an opportunity to reflect on the journey we had taken together over the last decade, evaluate the current state of affairs and chart the way forward on the agenda of transforming Africa’s agriculture for shared prosperity and improved livelihoods.”
As a plank of Africa’s socioeconomic development strategies, the agenda has been set by the AU leaders to address concerns of increased agricultural production, productivity and value addition while strengthening functional agricultural and rural markets.
In addition, it seeks to increase public and private investment in the agriculture value chain, build resilience to address vulnerability to risks and the challenges of ending hunger in Africa by 2025.
A major debate on the issue by the Assembly is planned for the next mid-year ordinary session, while preparations by the AU Commission are underway to engage a broad spectrum of stakeholders in an inclusive and participatory manner in the intervening period.
“We need to sustain the momentum of raising agricultural growth, but also must ensure that we put in place a robust system of social protection that productively integrates vulnerable social groups into the growth agenda,” Aziz pointed out.