Agriculture Ministers from Africa and America have committed to work together to boost food security.
The two continents will be working to jointly fight the common challenges and exploit common opportunities in a bid to transform their agrifood systems for sustainability and inclusivity.
The agreement to develop a cooperation agenda was reached during the First High-Level Roundtable between Africa and the Americas, convened and organized by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), themed “Building Bridges for Future Cooperation in Agrifood Systems”.
The officials representing countries from the two continents in the virtual event agreed that beyond the cultural and historical similarities and differences between the regions, the continents face a unique and common challenge of building knowledge intensive agriculture, with a human face, while caring for the environment and considering the areas of nutrition and health, necessary in order to produce more and higher quality food.
They agreed to develop agendas throughout the year to link technical assistance institutions for agriculture such as Embrapa in Brazil, Argentina’s INTA and all national research organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean, which play a key role in order to deepen exchanges.
They also proposed to hold a ministerial summit on agriculture in Africa and the Americas in the second half of 2022.
The meeting brought together among others, Agnes Kalibata, former Minister of Agriculture of Rwanda, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the 2021 Food Systems Summit who is also the President of AGRA Hailemariam Desalegn and the former Prime Minister of the Republic of Ethiopia.
Others were the President of AGRA’s Board of Directors Tereza Cristina, Brazil’s Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply Julián Domínguez.
Others were; Ministers of Agriculture; Zulfikar Mustapha (Argentina), Renato Alvarado (Guyana), Modibo Keita (Costa Rica) and Minister of Rural Development of Mali and the Director General of IICA, Manuel Otero.
A broader ministerial summit between the two continents will be held later this year focusing on innovation issues that were repeatedly mentioned at the roundtable and that are considered essential to increase the productivity and sustainability of agrifood systems, such as digital agriculture and biotechnology research.
The summit also discussed emerging issues such as the recovery of degraded soils, efficient water management and the promotion of more open, fairer and more transparent international food trade.
“I wish to thank Manuel Otero for building bridges between the two continents, given the fact that from the perspective of South to South Cooperation, we face common challenges,” said Kalibata.
She added: “I have visited Brazil and other Latin American countries and I am certain that we must learn from them. I am impressed by the progress Latin America has achieved in scientific research and trade.”
The former Ethiopian Premier Desalegn noted that with support from Brazil, his country had achieved positive results in the fight against hunger, and revealed that African countries are eager to exchange experiences with Latin American and the Caribbean nations.
“African economies have grown in recent decades, as have their agrifood systems despite catastrophes such as droughts and floods and, most recently, the Covid-19 pandemic. As a region, Africa lacks access to modern technologies and mechanized tools that allow for increasing productive variety and quality as well as expanding the percentage of arable land,” he said.
He added; “Many of our farmers are still subsistence farmers; therefore, cooperating with Latin America and the Caribbean will enable us to improve the lives of our populations.”
The Director General of IICA underscored the need for more and better international cooperation given the complexities of the current global scenario.
“No country will emerge from this crisis on its own. We must stand together to address issues of a cross-cutting nature. Everything makes more sense if we build bridges. And that is exactly what IICA is doing: building bridges between stakeholders, countries, subregions and also with other continents”, noted Otero.