Agricultural production provides income, employment and food at affordable prices as well as raw material for the processing industry and foreign exchange from exports. Creating a sustainable agricultural development path means improving the quality of life in rural areas, ensuring enough food for present and future generations and generating sufficient income for farmers.
Supporting sustainable agricultural development also involves ensuring and maintaining productive capacity for the future and increasing productivity without damaging the environment or jeopardising natural resources. In addition, it requires respect for and recognition of local knowledge and local management of natural resources, and efforts to promote the capabilities of current generations without compromising the prospects of future ones.
Consequently, economic and environmental sustainability, adequate farmer incomes, productive capacity for the future, improved food security and social sustainability are important elements of developing countries’ agricultural development.
The EU therefore supports:
- the promotion of agricultural practices and technologies that are environmentally sustainable and raise rural incomes, such as integrated pest management, soil and water conservation methods, agro-ecological approaches and agro-forestry;
- improvement of access to productive assets such as land and capital and measures to ensure better delivery of essential services;
- initiatives improving income and reducing vulnerability for producers through capacity building and a comprehensive value chain approach.
In the wider context of agricultural development, particular attention focuses on livestock, fisheries, on-farm aquaculture, and commodities.
The livestock sector contributes to economic and social development as well as to food security. Due to its strong positive interrelations with agricultural production, livestock production is generally an integral part of farming systems. The EU provides support by improving the structural, organisational and technical framework in order to develop effective sector strategies. Activities are aimed, more specifically, at:
- strengthening veterinary services’ abilities to quickly respond to and manage animal diseases as well as implementing good practices for animal production in view of enhanced competitiveness;
- promoting regional and international cooperation and coordination to formulate and implement livestock sector and related policies;
- improving national capacity to develop livestock production, while protecting natural resources and the environment.
Fisheries and on-farm aquaculture also have significant potential to reduce poverty and hunger and promote economic growth. Therefore, the EU promotes:
- improved fisheries governance and monitoring, control and surveillance systems;
- artisanal fisheries and their interaction with industrial fisheries;
- national/regional research capacity to evaluate available resources;
- regional cooperation, notably through support to regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs).
Agricultural commodities such as bananas, cocoa, coffee, cotton, rice, sugar and tea are crucial to the employment and income of millions of people in developing countries. They also represent an opportunity for export revenues. The EU considers the agricultural sector as a whole, but in some cases emphasising specific products is the best way to address developing countries’ difficulties in adapting to increasingly strong price volatility and international competition. EU development programmes therefore provide targeted support for various commodities, namely sugar and bananas in order to accompany developing countries in addressing challenges related to changes in EU market access for these products.
Coordination on African agriculture with other donors takes place in the framework of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP). Launched in 2003, the CAADP is the African Union’s official framework for spurring agricultural development in Africa. Its principles stress the inclusiveness of processes – with meaningful involvement of farmers' organisations, civil society and the private sector – as well as the integration of agriculture and food security in overall development policies. The EU strongly supports the CAADP and provides it with financial assistance at the continental, regional and national level.