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Post-Cotonou negotiations: Sustainable agriculture must remain key priority

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Friday, 07 December 2018

Post-Cotonou negotiations: Sustainable agriculture must remain key priority

Agriculture must be at the heart of the successor to the Cotonou Agreement between the EU and the ACP community, writes Michael Hailu Michael Hailu is the director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA). As global business leaders gather in Morocco today (30 November) for the EU-Africa Business Summit to focus on economic relations between African countries and the European Union, it is timely to remember that by 2050, the world will have another two billion mouths to feed. Without urgent reforms to agricultural production, the consequences will be both destabilising and devastating. With nearly 10 billion people, we need 65 to 100% more food than we currently produce and because land – already in short supply – is limited, we know this food is mostly going to have to come from increased yields and sustainable intensification of agriculture. Today’s Summit is particularly important given the fact formal negotiations on the future of ACP-EU relations are currently underway and the Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the EU and 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP), which has been in place for two decades, is due to expire on 29 February 2020. The current agreement covers one in every five people in the world and that in Africa alone, 100 million young people will enter the workforce over the next ten years – the majority depending on agriculture for jobs. So decisions made now could have serious consequences on their future livelihoods, jobs, food and nutrition security. However, current targets set by the African Union, to create around three million new jobs each year in the African agri-food sectors are not on track. And, with the average age of farmers in Africa still between 55 and 60, we need a significant and concerted effort to change course – and quickly. Smallholder farmers, who produce 80% of food in Africa, must increase productivity and efficiency but we cannot achieve this shift without making rural jobs more attractive for the younger generation. A game-changing catalyst for this is digitalisation: a mobilised, tech-savvy youth who can deploy disruptive tools and business models have the greatest potential to transform the status quo. With technology, we can even bypass traditional stages of development, making much more rapid gains.

Source: euractiv.com