AU Urges a Revisit of Agricultural Policies

The African Union (AU) Commission on Tuesday called for an urgent ‘revisit’ of African agricultural policies and urged international and donor communities to foster a coordinated approach that will enable Africa to feed itself as the continent is facing a food crisis.

AU chairperson Jean Ping made the call in Addis Ababa when addressing the 9th Meeting of the Regional Consultation Mechanisms (RCM) of UN agencies and organisations working in Africa ‘on food crisis and climate change in the continent.’

Ping expressed his deep concern at Africa’s food price crisis and low agricultural productivity. ‘There is urgent need for African countries to revisit their agricultural policies, not only to be able to feed their people but also to be in a position to compete effectively in the international world market such as the successful experience of Malawi,’ Ping said.

According to Ping, there is a need to prioritise and better integrate agricultural programmes in national budgets and development interventions. Efforts must be made to develop innovative response to address the current crisis, he said.

This will require not only looking at agriculture but addressing related sectoral issues downstream in the value chain, such as transportation, storage and the development of a robust manufacturing sector capable of developing and processing agricultural products, he noted. Many African countries are currently facing the food price hike, which is affecting millions on the continent, home to around 900 million people.

The current global financial crisis is likely to adversely impact Africa’s economies, including the price of food, he added. ‘Such impact would include, but are not limited to, decline in foreign direct investment as well as export earnings, and dwindling aid private capital,’ Ping added. The UN Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro is attending the two-day RCM meeting in Addis Ababa.

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