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Advancing African Agriculture
Proposal for continental and regional level cooperation on agricultural development in Africa
January 2007
European Commission


Executive summary

This paper makes proposals for EU-AU cooperation in support of agricultural development in Africa, focusing on initiatives at regional and continental levels. Cooperation at these levels is meant to both complement and stimulate agricultural development at the national level, the level where most investments take place and where the most intense cooperation will remain relevant.

The paper describes the main current challenges facing agricultural production in Africa, and indicates a number of prospects to face these challenges. These challenges and opportunities are grouped around six topics: (i) developing an updated integrated vision on agricultural development and its place in economic growth and poverty alleviation, based on a diversified rural livelihoods concept and economic linkages with other sectors; (ii) strengthening agricultural sector governance, in re-considering the role of the state, private sector and civil society, as well as the interrelations between these actors; (iii) improving rural productivity, by scaling up a range of known technological and managerial improvements, and by expanding research and making it more effective; (iv) accessing remunerative markets, both with respect to enhancing physical access and to making use of (niche) markets, products and structures that can assist in obtaining better prices; (v) managing the natural resource base in a sustainable manner, in establishing more effective management regimes and in ensuring positive economic returns to sustainable use; and (vi) reducing risks and vulnerabilities, with respect to price fluctuations and adverse climatic events, scaling up the use of innovative financial, information and safety net schemes.

AU-EU cooperation in agricultural development will need to support Africa's agricultural agenda, which is currently set by the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP). This initiative has been instrumental in placing agriculture in Africa higher on the political agenda, also in view of the need to achieve higher agricultural growth rates in order to reach the MDGs. CAADP mainly operates at the national level, but has important facilitating and supportive roles identified at continental and regional levels.

Based on the analysis of current challenges and on expressed policy priorities (both African and EU), seven areas of cooperation are proposed:

  1. Agriculture in Development Strategies
  2. Sector Governance
  3. Research, Knowledge Systems and Dissemination
  4. Trade Facilitation with an emphasis on quality assurance and improvement
  5. Natural Resource Management: Land, Fisheries, Forestry
  6. Livestock Disease Control
  7. Risk Management
For each area main support orientations at the regional and continental level and partners are identified, while principles for effective cooperation and harmonisation with other development partners are outlined. With respect to envisaged Community support, the paper provides an indication on the areas in which the main EC support instruments (EDF, Thematic Programmes, Research/JRC) can be used.

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