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Transforming agriculture to power Africa’s economy

FAO: Inclusive policies can spur agricultural transformation

Photo: ©FAO/Abebe Banjaw

14 May 2018 Addis Ababa – The 19th Session of the Africa Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM) called upon African governments to create within a generation a modern, competitive and environmentally sustainable agricultural sector that powers Africa’s economic transformation.

Addressing the panel on agricultural transformation at RCM, Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) recalled, “over 244 million people are chronically food insecure in Africa for the reason that the continent has not able to fully benefit from scientific and technological innovations that exist for agricultural transformation.” 

Speaking on the topic: “Regional Dimension and Reality on the Ground in Agricultural Transformation,” David Phiri, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa and Representative to the African Union and UNECA, observed that FAO supports  Eastern African countries and their regional economic integration organizations in the development of comprehensive and inclusive regional and national policies that are private-sector friendly. Noting that agricultural production intensifications with inbuilt market linkages are crucial for the subregion, Phiri stressed that building resilience through, among others, land and water management, sustainable pastoral systems and climate smart technologies and practices, including conservation agriculture, is a vital step to take for agricultural transformation.

K.Y. Amoako, Former Executive Secretary of UNECA and Founding President of African Center for Economic Transformation, underlined the fact that the time is now to see agriculture and its challenges through a transformational lens, rather than viewing it as an isolated sector. “Agriculture should root in rural economy and the national economy so that it can power economic transformation,” he said.

Representing the private sector, Faycal Benameur, Senior Vice President at OCP Group, gave a clear example on how Ethiopia and Morocco have joined hands to develop an integrated fertilizer production plant that would have a significant contribution to agricultural transformation. “The new fertilizer complex”, he noted, “would produce 2.5 million tons of fertilizer per annum in its first phase starting from 2022, to be scaled up to 3.8 million ton per year with the global investment of 3.7 billion USD.”

The panel on “Agriculture Powering Africa’s Economic Transformation” took place on May 13 at UNECA HQ, as part of the 19th RCM and attended by ministers, researchers, entrepreneurs, journalists and experts from the various economic sectors.

About the Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa (RCM-Africa)

The Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa (RCM-Africa) is a framework for coordination between the UN Development System and the African Union and aims to fast-track joint programme implementation system-wide by the United Nations and AUC commissions. FAO co-leads Cluster 1 “Sustainable and inclusive economic growth, industry, trade, agriculture and agro-processing and regional integration”.  RCM-Africa sessions are convened by UNECA and held on an annually basis. This year’s RCM forum was held under the theme: “United Nations system support for the African Union in winning the fight against corruption: a sustainable path to Africa’s transformation.” During this event, the dire effects of corruption on the agriculture sector was highlighted. The 19th Session of RCM ended with African governments being urged to strengthen existing policies, laws, rules and regulations to prevent corruption.

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