Agricultural journalist Elita Chikvati
African leaders must develop mechanisms to promote effective trade in agricultural products and food in Africa to improve farmers ‘markets and boost countries’ economies, President Mnangagwa said yesterday at the opening of the 31st FAO Regional Ministerial Conference. in Araka in Harare.
The conference, entitled “Agricultural and Rural Transformation in Africa: Promoting Inclusive Agribusiness and Regional Integration to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals”, is hosted and chaired by Zimbabwe on a virtual platform.
The event gives participants the opportunity to discuss priority issues related to the continent’s food and agriculture before the deadlines for achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 2 – zero hunger by 2030 – and meeting the African Union’s goals for food and nutrition safety. by 2025.
More than 80 ministers and deputy ministers from more than 45 countries are taking part, as well as representatives from provocative countries, donor organizations, civil society and the private sector.
President Mnangagwa expressed concern that intra-African trade in agricultural and food products remained low despite African member states concluding bilateral, sub-regional and regional trade agreements.
“This is a cause for concern. Mechanisms must be developed to promote effective agri-food trade in Africa to ensure food security. Measures to promote trade in agri-food products in Africa must be simplified to improve the practicality of our farmers.
“Let’s also work on improving the digitalization of agricultural processes and promoting regional value chains.” It is necessary to develop and modernize our logistics sector. “In this regard, the air and road networks will ensure the rapid movement of inputs and agricultural products in line with our regional and continental integration agenda,” he said.
The President called on the regional economic communities to make full use of complementarity and co-operation to boost agricultural growth, agro-industry development and intra-African trade.
He stressed the importance of creating and strengthening appropriate policies and institutions to facilitate private investment in agriculture, agribusiness and agro-industries.
“We must develop transparent and implemented programs to strengthen the resilience of existence and production systems.” “Mutual accountability for our activities and results on climate variation and other related underpinnings is also crucial.”
He said it was important for agricultural programs to be farm-centered and to realize knowledge based on the potential of women and youth for food security and sustainable development.
“This will also lead to the realization of development that no one leaves behind and pulls the majority of our people out of poverty.”
“My government recently launched the Strategy for the Transformation of Agriculture and Food Systems, which will be implemented through the Agricultural Renewal Plan, the Livestock Growth Plan and the Agricultural Growth Plan, as well as the accelerated plan for revitalization, rehabilitation and development of irrigation. .
“The agenda for agriculture and food transformation in my country has priority and support for research, innovation and mechanization towards modernization of agriculture for improved production productivity and profitability,” he said.
Regarding the negative impact of climate change on agriculture and the economy, the President encouraged the strengthening of efforts to increase the effectiveness of modern water harvesting and irrigation techniques.
“It is important for us to strengthen the modalities for research, development and diffusion of new technologies and systems of indigenous knowledge through public and private stakeholders.”
“The need to industrialize our economies and add value to products must further boost our co-operation in transforming the agricultural sector,” he said.
He called on the delegates to draw from the different backgrounds for the participants and speakers to develop positions reflected in the respective national programs and plans.
FAO Director-General Ku Dongju said Africa remained his key priority as the organization’s leader.
“Africa is a continent of untapped potential and remains a key priority for me. The transformation of the agri-food system will determine the continent’s success in solving political, socio-economic and environmental problems.
“That is why I think it is of the utmost importance that the considerations and results of this renewed regional conference in Africa be strongly linked to the African vision, as expressed in the Malabo Declaration of Agricultural Transformation under the Africa Agricultural Development Program (CAADP). “, as well as Agenda 2063,” he said.
Experts have already noted that climate change is making regional trade in Africa even more critical. One example is that events in El Nino tend to create near-drought or drought in South Africa, but increase rainfall in East Africa with events in La Nina doing the opposite.