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EU: Council Conclusions on Advancing African Agriculture
19 November 2007
European Union External Relations Council


The Council adopted the following conclusions:

  1. The Council recognises the crucial importance of broad-based sustainable agricultural growth for poverty reduction and food security, and in attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in Africa. It stresses that the first MDG in particular will not be achieved in Africa unless enhanced attention is paid to agriculture - including livestock, horticulture, fisheries and forestry - and the reduction of poverty in the rural world in national policies, strategies and investments, as well as in external support.


  2. The Council welcomes the decision by African Heads of State to increase the share of national budgets allocated to agriculture and rural development, as laid down in the Maputo Declaration, and it appeals to African States to honour their commitments and to the African Union Commission (AUC) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) to closely monitor progress in reaching the various targets set. The Council also welcomes an increased attention to agriculture, food security and rural development for Africa in the 10th European Development Fund (EDF), as well as through other development cooperation instruments of the Community and Member States. In this regard the Council underlines the importance of the Joint Development Policy Statement: the European Consensus on Development.


  3. In the spirit of the “European Consensus on Development”, the Council considers that the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) is a relevant and useful framework for advancing agriculture in Africa. In this context, the Council proposes further coherence and alignment of support for agriculture provided by the European Union (EU) and its Member States with the African-owned and led CAADP processes, principles and targets, taking into account and respecting the ownership of the agricultural programmes and policies of the Regional Economic Communities. The Council encourages the stepping up of EU involvement in CAADP consultations and implementation. In particular, the Regional and Country Round Tables are seen as providing an excellent opportunity for the participatory review and update of agricultural policies, strategies and reforms, leading to progress towards the MDGs and higher quality public and private investment in agriculture.


  4. Participatory processes in programme implementation, in defining strategic priorities and in monitoring the results should comprise all relevant stakeholders, including farmer organisations, civil society organisations, research organisations and private sector representatives operating in the value chain. Care needs to be taken to ensure gender equality in participatory processes. Therefore, the consultation processes should be carefully planned.


  5. With respect to cooperation on agricultural development at the continental and regional levels, the Council endorses the Commission Communication and in particular the Commission’s proposal to focus on seven priority areas, i.e. (i) strengthening the role of agriculture in national development strategies and improving the coherence between agriculture and other sectors; (ii) improving the governance of agricultural sectors; (iii) making research, knowledge systems and dissemination of information more effective for primary producers; (iv) enhancing trade facilitation, including the improvement of African capacities to comply with import requirements - such as sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) and organic standards - in regional and international markets; (v) improving natural resource management related to agriculture, with an emphasis on land and water management, forests and fisheries ; (vi) supporting livestock development and livestock disease control; and (vii) expanding risk management to reduce the vulnerability of farmers to external shocks and risks.

    Specific areas on which to focus collaboration between the EU and the African Union (AU) within the broader priorities will be decided in consultation with the AU and may include areas such as infrastructure development, improving the agricultural business climate, the transfer of knowledge, and developing public-private partnerships. The Council recognises that addressing pandemics like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, will also have a beneficial effect on labour productivity in agriculture.


  6. The Council stresses the importance of targeting small-scale and family agriculture in agricultural development cooperation and the importance of focusing on women. Considering that the livelihood of the great majority of the poor in Africa depends on agriculture, small-scale farmers need to be assisted, including through the development of safe and scientifically tested agricultural innovations; through improved market access, first and foremost to local, national and regional markets but also to international markets; through improved value-chain management; by strengthening farmers’ organisations; through improved land-tenure conditions; by enhanced access to micro-credit and by developing appropriate safety nets, specifically targeted for vulnerable groups.


  7. Recognizing that the vast majority of small-scale African farmers are women, it is of utmost importance to apply a gender perspective and encourage the empowerment of women. The Council accepts the documented tendency of women to reinvest in better nutrition, health and education of households members, thus increasing livings standards in the long run. Accordingly the Council recognises the need to specifically target women, when investing in agricultural development, and to ensure their access to equal opportunities. In this context, fair, equitable and legally secured access to land plays an important role since women in Africa possess limited rights in this area, despite their significant role in agriculture. The Council furthermore accepts the necessity of gender mainstreaming in all agriculture-related programmes and welcomes the active involvement of civil society in ensuring equal access to services and opportunities and in recognizing and enforcing property and inheritance rights, including land rights. The Council fully recognises that investing in women’s rights and empowerment is not only a goal in itself but also a means to an end.


  8. The Council considers that farmers’ organizations and other rural representative actors play an essential role in representing the interests of farmers and farmer groups and welcomes efforts to support such organisations’ capacity in advocacy, negotiations and service delivery. The Council appreciates the contribution that European and African civil society organisations can make to the elaboration and implementation of agriculture development policies, at national, (sub) regional and continental levels and to the empowerment of agricultural producers. The Council stresses the importance of good governance at national and local level for advancing African Agriculture, especially by fostering decentralisation processes, participatory planning procedures and accountability.


  9. The Council recognises the important interaction between agriculture and the environment in Africa in terms of both the way in which agriculture affects the natural environment and the way agriculture is affected by processes of desertification, land degradation and climate change. In this context, the Council underlines the need to incorporate sustainable land and water management practices in agriculture and to urgently prepare a cooperation programme on adaptation to climate change.


  10. The Council underlines the need for enhanced intra-EU coordination on agricultural development cooperation. As a contribution to the implementation of the international agenda on aid effectiveness and the recent Commission Communication on division of labour, the Council invites the European Commission and Member States to improve their coordination mechanisms, including at national level in partner African countries, in order to increase complementarity in and exchange of information on agricultural and rural development cooperation programmes. The Council would welcome a facilitative role on the part of the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA), particularly with regard to enhancing information exchange. Furthermore, the Council acknowledges the role of the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development (GDPRD) in stimulating overall donor coordination and harmonisation around the CAADP and streamlining information flows between donors, the AU, NEPAD and the Regional Economic Communities.
    In order to monitor progress in enhanced coordination on agricultural development cooperation and on the results of EU-Africa agricultural development cooperation, the Commission is invited to annually present a report to Council on achievements.


  11. In the area of Agriculture, the Council notes with satisfaction that the process of CAP reform is making an important contribution to coherence between agricultural and development policies, as acknowledged by the Council Conclusions on Policy Coherence for development.


  12. The Council re-emphasizes the importance of ensuring coherence between trade and development policies and recalls the EU-Africa Partnership on Cotton as a good example of a programme with a strong poverty focus that combines initiatives in the areas of development and trade to structurally improve the conditions for African farmers, deserving continued EU support.


  13. The Council trusts that these considerations will be adequately reflected in the Joint EUAfrica Strategy and the Action Plan for the implementation of the EU-Africa Strategic Partnership.

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