|CONFERENCE OF MINISTERS OF AGRICULTURE OF THE AFRICAN UNION MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE 1-2 JULY 2003: ADDRESS BY THE INTERIM CHAIRPERSON OF THE AFRICAN UNION [Français]|
It is a singular honour and a great pleasure for me to address your gathering; an honour reinforced by the feelings of a person who is about to achieve the objective he has set for himself, through our efforts to concretize the realization of NEPAD.
Indeed, following a close and direct consultation with my brother and friend Jacques Diouf, FAO Director General, here present, on the agricultural and food crisis bedeviling our continent for some years now and the stakes in the implementation of NEPAD, I decided to convene this session just before the long awaited Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union due to take place in a few days time in this beautiful and historic capital of Mozambique. This, needless to say, is proof of the seriousness and importance I personally attach to your deliberations, and my gratitude to the Government and people of Mozambique for having accepted to host this Conference.
I leave it to the Experts to give you an overview backed by relevant statistics, of the continent’s alarming agricultural and food crisis,. This situation is not only gloomy but also well known. As a matter of fact, at each of the African and international gatherings, notably the World Food Summit, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the WTO Ministerial meetings, the G8 Summits, the ADB General assemblies, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government Sessions and other statutory meetings of the African Union, diagnosis is carried out and commitments made to redress the situation. At each of these gatherings, Africa and the international community have renewed their faith in NEPAD, through its various components and their determination to help extricate the continent from the crisis.
Over the last 12 months, the agriculture component of NEPAD has witnessed a significant development marked by two major events, namely your Extraordinary Session held in Rome on 9 June 2002 under the auspices of the FAO Regional Conference for Africa and the meting of Heads of State and Government and Executive Heads of the Regional Economic Communities held in Abuja, Nigeria on 12 December 2002. While the first meeting adopted the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and gave clear orientations on a series of aspects relating to the necessary measures to be taken and the creation of conditions conducive to the recovery of African agriculture, the second meeting examined the concrete pre-requisites to be fulfilled to guarantee success, culminating in the adoption of the historic Declaration of Head of State and Government and Chief Executives of the Regional Economic Communities on NEPAD-Vision for Agricultural Development and Food Security in Africa known as “Abuja Declaration”.
All these sustained commitments and efforts lead us today to ponder on a fundamental question: which plan of action and strategy should be put in place to mobilize all the African energies for the harmonious and rapid implementation of this programme and thereby reverse, as quickly as possible, the continent’s catastrophic agricultural and food situation?
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you are about to provide an answer to this question, I invite you to constantly keep in mind the supreme interest of the populations and the environment in which they live. We must be vigilant in safeguarding and preserving the health of our populations and providing them with a safe environment in our constant bid to achieve food self-sufficiency and security on the continent.
The strategies that will emerge from your deliberations should revolve around time tested scientific and technological innovations so that in the short, but most importantly in the medium and long terms, the food level sought is achieved for the benefit of both the urban and rural populations. It is my fervent hope that the strategies you will recommend for adoption by our supreme leaders leave no room for any uncertainly and ambiguity. I urge you to be more circumspect and selfless in taking decisions so that tomorrow we may not have to once again mobilize additional efforts to combat scourges which we have consciously or inadvertently helped to introduce into our continent.
The draft plans of action and mobilization strategies prepared by Africa and its partners and which are tabled before you today are the fruit of a close and active collaboration among the various African institutions to which you entrusted the task of concretizing the directives and commitments I have just referred to. At this juncture, I would like to thank my brother Jacques Diouf and his entire team for the constant support FAO has provided throughout this process and to express satisfaction at the cooperation between ADB, the NEPAD Secretariat and the Commission of the African Union.
The proposed plan of action constitutes a direct response to the will demonstrated to invest in the productive sectors of the four priority pillars of the programme, supplemented by protection measures which have an immediate effect on the reduction of the continent’s food security and poverty. The plan, which is a logical sequence of the Regional Food Security Programmes (RFSP), aims at the reduction of food dependence, the development of Agriculture and Rural Economy, improvement in the operation of African domestic and foreign trade, as well as higher income for farmers and improvement of their living conditions.
Faced with the seriousness of the situation, the plan advocates a radical process known as “2003 –2009 First Phase” which under normal circumstances should make it possible to reverse the trend in the next 5 years, thereby demonstrating the objectivity and realism of the African leaders through the NEPAD vision. This phase will be completed and consolidated by a process to be prepared more meticulously overtime and with the necessary adjustment.
You will agree with me that to prepare meticulous programmes and plans of action is one thing, to implement them is another. It is necessary and important therefore to agree on the strategy and distribution of the roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders in the implementation of the plan of action. The strategy for the mobilization of all the African energies will require, in addition to this clear distribution of tasks:
- the creation of conditions that will render agriculture attractive, competitive and profitable;
- sustained commitment on the part of all the social segments and of the governments;
- the imperative need to undertake specific actions that will generate added values, and
- increased and sustained mobilization of mainly domestic resources in favour of NEPAD.
The fundamental message emerging from this is that even if the Regional and Sub-Regional Organizations have an important role to play, the bulk of the actions and the conditions to be fulfilled rests with the governments.
It therefore behoves you, honourable Ministers, stakeholders in Africa agriculture, to urge your respective governments to become the driving force for the effective implementation of the principles and objectives of NEPAD.
For its part and mindful of its role, the Commission of the African Union renews its firm commitment to the investment of maximum resources and expertise in ensuring the successful implementation of the process. In this connection, I would like to reiterate my determination to personally oversee the implementation of your decisions so as to translate the NEPAD Plan of Action into deeds.
I would also like to seize this opportunity to thank and encourage all our partners, including the G8 and the United Nations which have expressed their support for Africa in the implementation of NEPAD.
Our sincere thanks also go to FAO and all the partners who have committed themselves to providing support for the capacity building of the technical services of the Commission and enable the latter to face up to the challenge.
Once more, I would like to reiterate my readiness and that of my entire team to contribute to the effective implementation of your decisions. I wish you full success in your deliberations.
I thank you.