Boost for Parliamentary Action in Support of Agricultural Development PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 06 October 2009 12:00

Boost for Parliamentary Action in Support of Agricultural Development

ACCRA, Ghana, October 5 (Public Agenda) — The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa (AWEPA) announced a new partnership to support African parliamentarians as they promote policies to help smallholder farmers make the transition' from subsistence to market-oriented agriculture, a change that will require a comprehensive transformation of Africa's agricultural system.

"There is nothing more fundamental to the success of democracy than people's access to food," said Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, AGRA's Vice President for Policy and Partnerships. "Africa cannot build democracy on empty stomachs and the best way to secure the right to food is for Africa to produce its own food."

"In Africa, the AWEPA-AGRA partnership will help strengthen parliamentary committees overseeing agriculture and trade." It will foster greater debate on agriculture as an engine of pro-poor growth and support the capacity of parliamentary committees to engage on evidence-based policy dialogues, on how African countries can cope with major challenges.
These include the effects of climate change on African agriculture; laws and practices biased against women in agriculture; and access of farmers to technology and markets.

In Europe the partnership will encourage the EU donor community to meet their development aid commitments to Africa, especially for agriculture.

"We are delighted to be partnering with AGRA in strengthening the role of parliamentarians, in both Europe and Africa, in supporting African agriculture," commented Par Granstedt, Secretary General of AWEPA. "Together we will give considerable emphasis to working with agricultural committees which are crucial in reflecting the needs and concerns of Africa's farmers at constituency level, most of whom are smallholders and many being women. They now face the added threat of climate change, an area too where parliamentary action is urgently required."

AGRA is a partnership-based organization that is working across Africa's farm value chain to improve production and incomes of smallholder farmers.

AWEPA involves some 1,500 European parliamentarians who have worked since the anti-apartheid movement keep Africa high on the policy agenda in Europe and strengthen parliamentary democracy in Africa.

The new partnership between AGRA and AWEPA was unveiled during the 25th AWEPA Anniversary Conference in Cape Town. The conference has included extensive discussions between European and African legislators on the link between agricultural development and poverty reduction and the role of parliamentary action. Some 70 percent of Africans work in agriculture and agriculture provides 50 to 70 percent of Africa's Gross Domestic Product, yet yields remain one-quarter the global average.
Thus, greater farm productivity and profitability is central to alleviating poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger and poverty by 2015.

As part of their Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), African governments have pledged to commit 10 percent of national budgets to agriculture and rural development, with the goal of attaining six percent annual agricultural growth.

The AGRA-AWEPA partnership aims to help translate this goal into concrete action through increasing political support for agriculture development, improving the governance of the agricultural sector and strengthening the capabilities of parliamentary committees to craft practical and effective policies that can have an immediate impact on African smallholder farmers.
"Our partnership with AWEPA is critical because any improvements that occur in farmers' fields cannot be sustained over the long term without a supportive policy environment," Adesina said.


"It took great political leadership for Africa to overcome apartheid. It will take no less to make hunger and poverty history in Africa. This is the time for political leadership across Africa to develop and implement comprehensive policies of support for African farmers."



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