Booming Africa needs jobs. Agriculture is the main sector for creating jobs, especially when it comes to smallholder farmers and rural areas. The EU is glad about the recommendations of the TFRA and will focus on smallholder farmers. To start with 85 million euro.
If you, as a smallholder farmers organisation in Ethiopia, have plans to enter the market with your coffee; if you grow a specific type of ginger in Mali; if you want to expand your demonstration farm for pastoralists in Kenya; or want to improve your tomato plantation in Nigeria, or if you have a plan to combat desertification through agroforestry, there might be easier ways to receive support from the European Union.
Today, the Task Force Rural Africa (TFRA) presented their Africa-Europe Agenda for Rural Transformation. It’s all about the sustainable transformation of African agriculture. ‘We propose measures to achieve rapid inclusive agricultural growth, with a specific focus on family farming, building capacities in farmers organisations, with African governments, societies, and farmers driving the transformation’, Tom Arnold, chair of the TFRA declared during the press conference.
The EU is ready to back a number of early initiatives with real policy supports and real funding, Phil Hogan, the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development assured. Under their External Investment Plan there will soon be €85 million in guarantees, and €8.5 million in Technical Assistance, available. Besides that, the EU will support an Africa Leader Programme inspired by the successful EU leader programme. And finally, the EU is behind the African Union’s strategy for Geographical Indications, aimed at building a quality registration system to add value to iconic African food and drink products.
The EU is very much concerned about the booming population and the increase of African unemployment. 800 million Africans will enter the labour force over the next 30 years. With this, Africa will account for 75 percent of the increase in the global workforce.
And besides that, Africa has more issues to cope with. Like hunger, which is on the rise. And at the same time, obesity is increasing. Sometimes within the same families. That’s why Africa needs more diversified diets. Above that, Africa is most affected by climate change. In 80 percent of the cases, the calamities turn out as drought. And there is the issue of biodiversity loss, in Africa mostly due to overexploitation and poaching of wildlife.
But for the EU the top priority is, as told, to tackle unemployment in rural areas, because every month, 1 million jobs are needed. According to the TFRA, generating enough jobs and income to meet the needs of the increasing population, is one of the great political and economic challenges of our time. The agri-food sector, the smallholder farmers and rural economy are key in the solutions.
Africa and the EU should implement an innovative partnership for the inclusive and sustainable development of Africa’s agri-food sector and rural economy, Arnold said. ‘The partnership would be based on African political and policy leadership, supported by European experience, expertise, and finance.’
The report is not just another report, it is based on action, Leonard Mizzi said. He is head of Unit at the European Commission, Directorate-General (DG) for International Cooperation and Development.
Action is recommended on various levels. There is a Local Action Plan to mobilize local initiatives, bottom-up. Many advice is given on knowledge sharing, for example through knowledge platforms. There is a focus on land access, innovation hubs, vocational training and technical assistance. There will be worked on linking governments and even the EU and the AU, but also on farming level. Because farmers in Africa and Europe often deal with similar issues. For farmers access to finance, but also EU-fundings will be improved, for example through smaller minimum loans or budgets for projects.
Drop your plan
The EU showed itself very satisfied with the concrete policy recommendations. ‘We now have a roadmap for an agri-food and rural agenda between our two continents’, Phil Hogan expressed. ‘And at the European Commission, we will put our money where our mouth is.’
So, if you have good ideas to develop sustainable agriculture which creates jobs in rural areas, if you have a decent business plan, don’t hesitate and go to an EU delegation in your country to drop your plan and discuss it. The EU has offices in almost every African country.
© Marc van der Sterren
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