Agricultural development was at the heart of the discussions at the first New York Forum Africa, held in Libreville, Gabon between June 8 and 10, with business and government representatives from all nations in attendance.
Dubbed “the African Davos”, the forum gave an opportunity for various speakers to point out that African will not get off the economic ground without agriculture. “We must win the battle of agricultural production on the continent,” stated Julian Nkoghe Békalém, the Gabonese Agriculture Minister.
Political and economic decision-makers thus devoted a significant share of their June 9 work to reflect on the ways and means to promote agriculture in Africa. They also resolved to get involved with agriculture, and rank it as a priority in Africa. All the Forum’s conclusions and proposals were submitted to the G20 Summit in Mexico and to the Rio+20 Summit.
Acknowledging the need to invest in African agriculture closely follows the conclusions of the latest Dakar Agricole Forum held in April 20111. We have come a long way, since no one can deny that the World Bank loans to agriculture shifted from 17 to four percent since the 1980s, and that the private sector has made very little investments since the 1960s.
Although long sidelined, agriculture now emerges not only as the answer to food crises, but also as one of the pillars of national economic development. This change in attitudes is one of the required conditions for increasing investment in agriculture, which is still sorely lacking.
So that these investments can lead to the long-term development of agriculture, it is crucial that they are made in a favorable global framework. Yet, agricultural market instability represents a major obstacle, because it strips away any visibility for the players involved, and makes long-term investments more risky.
The implementation of national, regional and international agricultural policies––especially to stabilize agricultural markets––is therefore a required precondition to the expansion of African agriculture, as witnessed by the introduction of the CAP in Europe.
1 Please see momagri article “Summary of the Dakar Agricole workshops”, http://www.momagri.org/UK/points-of-view/Summary-of-Workshops-Dakar-Agricole-_902.html