Ministers from the African Union and European Union countries have agreed to give new impetus to their joint efforts to improve investment in sustainable food production and job creation in Africa.
Meeting in Rome on 2 July 2017 at the AU-EU Agriculture Ministerial Conference on 'Making Sustainable Agriculture a future for youth in Africa', the ministers agreed on a common vision on how to generate sustainable and inclusive growth, supporting job creation in the agri-food sector and the rural economy for African youth, and ensuring a sustainable management of natural resources.
EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan spoke at the conference, highlighting the Commission's commitment to the development of the African agri-food sector, and underlining that agriculture is at the core of current European action in Africa. He stressed in particular the need to foster responsible investment in African agriculture as "aid and trade are not enough. Aid budgets are under pressure. And trade only works when you have competitive products to sell."
Commissioner Hogan further insisted on "the need to create an enabling environment for the private sector to want to invest and contribute to economic growth. And here agriculture ministers have a crucial role to play".
Phil Hogan also stressed the importance of youth in African agricultural development. With a population expected to double by 2050 from 1.2 billion people to 2.4 billion predominantly young people, the continent will need to create 18 million new jobs each year up to 2035, according to the International Monetary Fund. "The sector is strategic because of its capacity to provide jobs and growth in rural areas, and in Africa agri-food jobs are urgently required for a rapidly growing young population," he explained. This is why "we need to make agriculture an attractive economic activity for young people. A farmer should be seen as an entrepreneur".
The conference focused on four broad themes - responsible investments; research, innovation and ICT; sustainable water management; and climate smart agriculture and reducing food losses and waste – and its conclusions will feed into the Africa-EU summit on 28-29 November, which also has youth as its central theme.
5 July 2017