AU calls for boosting local processing of key agricultural products in Africa

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, February 16, 2024
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ADDIS ABABA, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) has called for concerted efforts toward the realization of the Common Africa Agro-Parks (CAAPs) initiative to boost Africa's food security by accelerating the local processing of key agricultural products.

Josefa Sacko, the AU commissioner for agriculture, rural development, blue economy and sustainable environment, made the call Thursday while addressing the media on the sidelines of the ongoing AU meetings at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting global market disruptions have shown the urgency for Africa to ensure its food security, Sacko said the AU is working toward the realization of the CAAPs initiative to boost regional trade for agricultural commodities by increasing the local processing of major agricultural products.

"The lesson we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic was that when we wanted to import our rice and cereals, we could not because everything was blocked as countries banned the export of goods. We saw that we were so vulnerable and that we needed to do something," Sacko told reporters.

She noted that in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the CAAPs initiative has the potential to transform Africa's agriculture sector and food security while boosting the continent's integration through trade and industrialization.

"With this initiative, we will have our own breadbasket, and we will have our own food reserve on the continent for certain commodities in case we have any shocks," the AU commissioner said.

Noting that the initiative envisages having a hub for selected agricultural products across each region of Africa, Sacko said efforts are currently underway in partnership with individual AU member states and the African Export-Import Bank, or Afreximbank, to realize the continental aspiration.

According to her, two regions have been identified to start the CAAPs initiative. Zambia and Zimbabwe have been identified as host hubs for cereals, crops, and dairy products, while Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana have been identified for cocoa production.

"We want to use those examples as pilot projects, and later, we can disseminate and mainstream to all other regions to make our own food," she said.

According to Sacko, in addition to ensuring Africa's food security and augmenting intra-Africa trade, the CAAPs initiative will significantly contribute to job creation for the continent's youth.

"This is a mega project, and it is going to create a lot of jobs for the youth. It is going to help us attain the level of food security on the continent with improved intra-Africa trade," she added. Enditem

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