Afro-Arab experts wrap up meetings on agricultural development plan

11:09, February 16, 2010      

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African and Arab agriculture experts wrapped up on Monday their meetings to discuss the Joint Action Plan (JAP) on promoting agricultural development and food security in Africa and the Arab world.

A draft resolution will be referred to the agriculture ministers who are to convene on Tuesday.

The draft resolution proposes to establish a facilitation unit for the effective implementation of the JAP and requests the African Union Commission (AUC), the Arab League (AL) general secretariat and the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development to develop a detailed proposal on the structure and mandate of the future unit.

Drafted in 2009, the JAP was aimed at merging the agricultural development strategies in Arab and African countries to set up a new common strategy to face the challenges of food shortage and the increasing gap between developed and developing countries in food production.

Meanwhile, the experts requested the AUC, the Arab Bank for Economic Development, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, Afrexim Bank, Islamic Development Bank and the Arab Authority for Agricultural Development and Investment to elaborate a proposal for means to fund the JAP.

The draft resolution also recommended a biennial Afro-Arab Agricultural Ministerial Meeting alternatively in Africa and the Arab region to follow up the JAP implementation.

The Joint Afro-Arab Ministerial Conference on Agricultural Development and Food Security kicked off on Sunday at the level of experts in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh with agricultural experts from 32 Arab and African countries.

Discussions of the experts involved the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) and the Arab strategy to promote sustainable agricultural development and food security.

According to latest estimates from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Asia and sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have about 90 percent of the hungry people worldwide with more than 200 million people in SSA considered undernourished. Besides, 7.8 percent of the North African and Middle East population are undernourished.

The two-day meeting included a briefing on the status of agricultural development and food security in Africa and the Arab world as well as the policy framework on the use of land in Africa.

The Afro-Arab experts underlined the necessity to find out mechanisms to cope with challenges that hinder the progress of the CAADP, and they suggested regional governments provide financial resources to meet the commitment of allocating 10 percent of annual budget to agriculture.

Launched in 2003, the CAADP is an ambitious and comprehensive framework for agricultural reform in Africa, which aims for an average annual growth rate of 6 percent in agriculture by 2015. The proposed Arab strategy is based on seven development programs and 34 sub-programs to strengthen economic integration and institutional performance as well as monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

Regarding the JAP, the experts said it is a merger of both Arab and African agricultural development strategies, noting that it is based on five pillars: intensification of agriculture, research and technology transfer, trade and market access, strategic food reserves and capacity building.

Source: Xinhua
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