The Commissioner for Agriculture at the African Union Commission Josefa Sacko has hailed Kenya for her initiative in realizing the establishment of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA).
“Africa and the world will always remember that Kenya was the first country to ratify the AfCFTA treaty,” said Sacko and added, “There is thus no better place to fast track the implementation of the 5th commitment of the Malabo Declaration which is about tripling intra-African trade in Agricultureby 2025 other than Nairobi, Kenya.”
Speaking at the 15th CAADP Partnership Platform with the theme “Enhancing Trade and Market Access for Accelerated Agriculture Transformation,” Sacko called on African states to take advantage of the AfCFTA and trade in agricultural commodities produced on the African continent.
The Commissioner noted that the signing and ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) provides an opportunity to accelerate growth and sustainable investment by increasing investment and trade, especially trade in agricultural commodities.
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“We all need to work hand in hand to agree on the road map and key policy actions that will position the agriculture sector to take full advantage of the single African market of 1.3 billion people and a cumulative GDP over $3.4 trillion,” she said and added, “The leadership of the AUC under the new reform is working to seriously address the good functioning of the AUC. We need to take control of our destiny and stop blaming others, we need to work and work hard and to reduce our talk.”
While urging for intra-Africa trade to take advantage of the AfCFTA, Sacko noted that this will help to provide much needed market for commodities produced on the continent.
The Commissioner appealed to member states to relook at how to operationalize the National Agriculture Investment Plans (NAIPs) so as to increase budgetary allocation to agriculture as envisaged in the Maputo declaration on agriculture and food security of 2003 that called for the allocation of 10% of GDP to agriculture.
Sacko said members states are lagging behind on the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods of 2014.
Speaking at the 15th Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program Partnership Platform (CAADP PP) held in Nairobi, Sacko said the trade data over the period 2012-2016 indicates that Africa’s annual food import bill averaged $35 billion, “and it is estimated to rise to $110 billion by 2025.”
She said it is worrying that the increase in agricultural and food imports has been on basic foodstuffs, dairy products, meat and meat products, sugar and cereals.
“According to the FAO-OECD report on Agricultural Output, the demand for food is expected to grow at more than 3% per annum, while agricultural production is projected to rise by 2.6% a year which means that Africa’s net import of food commodities is expected to grow,” she warned.
She however noted that inter-African trade is being hampered by little progress in the development of agro-industries and agri-business capacities that impede value addition and competitiveness.
She urged for the need to create a policy environment for boosting regional trade in agriculture commodities “by increasing local processing of key agriculture products and their respective value chains.”
Others will include; promoting and facilitating increased consumption of locally and regionally produced agriculture commodities; achieving self-sufficiency and the lowest possible importation of key agriculture commodities in Africa; stimulating local and regional private sector investments in agriculture by setting a conducive business environment that attracts both domestic and foreign investments in the agriculture sector.