Investment in agriculture, agro industries - For Africa to ensure sustained and inclusive GDP growth of at least 7 percent, agriculture and agro-processing are critical factors that all African countries must take seriously this year, the African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, said here Monday. Addressing the opening session of the AU Executive Council’s 24th ordinary meeting, Dlamini Zuma said that this year, all African countries need increase agricultural investment and productivity to meet the goals of the 2003 Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
The goals include expansion of agro-business and value chains of agricultural produce, expanding infrastructure and skills as well s research for agriculture.
African leaders have declared 2014 ‘The Year of Agriculture and Food Security’ and their summit, due to be held here this week, is centred on this theme as a rallying point for change on the continent.
Dlamini Zuma told the Executive Council that the AUC would take special measures to ensure that women, the largest part of the agricultural workforce and food producers in Africa, have access to training and capital.
She emphasised that women should be supported to set up cooperatives, marketing structures and agribusinesses.
“The Commission will during this year focus on these matters, working with other continental bodies such as the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), regional economic communities and civil society,” said the AUC Chairperson.
Top of the agenda, according to Dlamini Zuma, was the matter of trade and the economic relationship between Africa and the rest of the world.
“We must take practical steps to ensure that Africa has a greater say on the pricing of our agricultural goods and products,” she said.
“We are today more convinced than ever that we shall not succeed in eradicating poverty, disease, conflict and hunger and provide a better life for the peoples of our continent, unless we have greater integration of our economies.
“Our partnership with the world must therefore enhance rather than undermine these priorities,” she added.