FAO Regional Office for Africa

COMESA and FAO affirm their commitment to close collaboration

Towards achieving some of the set targets in the Malabo Declaration

©FAO/ Believe Nyakudjara

26 June 2015, Harare – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) have committed themselves to an enhanced and more structured collaboration as they support their respective Member States in the areas of agricultural development and international trade. The affirmation came at a landmark joint 2-day meeting that ended on 25 June 2015 in Harare. This is the first meeting of its kind between FAO and the regional trading bloc. 

David Phiri, the FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa, said the groundbreaking meeting was important in that it marks a departure from the ad hoc and sporadic forms of collaboration in the past. “The seeds of today’s meeting were sown when I met with the COMESA Assistant Secretary General (Programmes), Ambassador Kipyego Cheluget, in Zambia in November last year and we deliberated on how we could strengthen our existing collaboration further to ensure more synergistic programmes. We agreed to meet and discuss issues more structurally,” said Phiri.

The Harare meeting sought to cover ground on exploring the possible areas of collaboration and joint implementation. In addition, there were deliberations on how to structure the enhanced collaboration as well as building trust between FAO and COMESA.

The FAO Subregional Office for Southern Africa hosted the meeting, which was also attended by FAO staff in the FAO Subregional Office for Eastern Africa and Regional Office for Africa.

Common interests, overlapping mandates

FAO and COMESA, with common interests and overlapping mandates in areas of agriculture and trade, have collaborated on the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and Conservation Agriculture, among other interventions. The formal meeting sought to provide a road map on future engagement.

Nalishebo Meebelo, Deputy CAADP Coordinator at COMESA, who led the delegation from the trading bloc, said the current thrust requires collaboration to achieve some of the set targets in the Malabo Declaration. “The Malabo Declaration targets, for example, are very ambitious and we cannot continue with the business as usual approach to achieve them,” said Meebelo. The Malabo Declaration on, “Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods”, was adopted by the African Heads of States in 2014 and it has a set of concrete goals to be reached by 2025. One of the seven commitments that were adopted is that of Ending Hunger in Africa by 2025, itself following a recommendation to that effect of the African Union/FAO/Lula Institute High Level Meeting held in Addis Ababa in June/July 2013.

Meebelo added that the first point of departure could be revisiting an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 1987 between FAO and the Preferential Trade Area (PTA), which was the predecessor to COMESA. “We may need to review that MoU and see if it addresses current issues, we may need to redraft and bring it to the current context,” added Meebelo.

At the end of the 2 days of deliberations it was agreed that FAO would provide technical support for the elaboration of both the COMESA Regional Agriculture Investment Plan (RAIP) and a programme aiming to removing obstacles to regional agricultural trade as well as to link farmers to markets.

Priority areas for collaboration were also agreed and included the CAADP/Malabo process, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (plant and animal health and food safety), climate change, livestock, fisheries, water resources, trade and investment; as well, technical focal points were nominated for each technical area. A joint team will take the agreed actions forward as both organizations committed to holding annual strategic level meetings and more frequent technical level consultations.

More Information

  1. Photos from the meeting
  2. FAO and COMESA agree to join forces in rural transformation



Edward Ogolla
Communications Officer

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Leonard Makombe

Assistant Communication Officer

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