Mr. Minister of Agriculture and Fishing,
Madame Minister for Foreign Trade,
Mr. European Commissioner for Foreign Trade,
Mr. Senator of the Manche, Mr. President of the National Federation of Farmer’s Unions (FNSEA),
Mr. President of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy,
Mr. President of the World Organization for Agriculture (WOAgri),
Ladies and gentlemen Experts and Scientists,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very pleased to be here with you this morning on behalf of his Excellency Mr. Abdoulaye Wade, president of the Republic of Senegal, who has honored me with the task of representing him and who has asked me to tell you that he shares the ideals developed by WOAgri, which are perfectly in line with those of the Dakar International Agriculture Forum organized, as you all know, in February 2005 in Dakar.
President Abdoulaye Wade indeed believes, and I quote, “that agriculture is too serious a matter for an elite, of any nature, to assume the right to govern it”. This is the reason why, President Abdoulaye Wade is looking forward to hearing about your discussions and conclusions that will without doubt open new perspectives for world agriculture, providing they are founded on new models of regulation. President Wade supports and agrees with this innovative approach.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me, before coming to the conclusions of this important morning, to cite several goals for African agriculture. As you already know, the main objective of African states is to reduce, if not wipe out, poverty by 2015 and to promote during this period an efficient and diversified agriculture that is capable at the same time of providing a sufficient amount of healthy food for the population and of bringing in a sufficient amount of currency from the conquest of intercontinental export markets by enabling the effective integration of the continent in the world economy on the one hand, but also through the conquest of export markets on a continental level, which will enable a harmonious integration of the economic zones of the African continent.
For the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), the goal is to involve all 15 members in a common agricultural policy capable of contributing efficiently to the fight against poverty and ensuring food security.
In order to harmonize the different interventions in this part of Africa, a framework for the cooperation of regional organizations, which groups together seven bodies (CILSS, ECOWAS, UEMOA, CMA/AOC, WARDA, WECARD, CRAT), has existed since 1999 and meets regularly. In this context a harmonized program of common actions in agriculture has been decided on with leading organizations for different aspects (UEMOA: framework of a common agricultural policy; ECOWAS: regional markets; CMA/AOC: agricultural information; WECARD: research).
The current period is in fact characterized by the setting up of a regional agricultural market that applies the regulations of the UEMOA (Union Economique Monétaire Ouest Africaine), in particular a common customs tariff and the harmonization of inland duties, and, on the other hand, by the restarting of trades negotiations between the ECOWAS, the European Union and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
While taking into account the economic zones of which it is a member, Senegal has set up coherent strategies for action in the area of agriculture. In 2004 it adopted an agricultural law called the Loi d’Orientation Agro-Sylvo-Pastorale (LOASP) that outlines the main objectives of the government in view of modernizing the agricultural sector over the next twenty years. A strategy for Accelerated Growth, of which the agriculture and agri-business sector is one of the main pillars, is being deployed.
The REVA plan (Return to Agriculture) has been designed and created to maximize the impacts of economic and social policies and environmental strategies.
It involves and gives a sense of responsibility to target populations within the process of creating, implementing and managing different programs that aim to develop agriculture in the country.
It is also one of the answers to the delicate question of immigration by aiming to set up actions that help retain populations in their home region. Thus REVA is going to mobilize skills and means to help populations that want to settle in their region and immigrants who want to return home – a desire that is often expressed - to start viable economic projects that guarantee sustainable well-being.
The REVA plan therefore is a tool for the implementation of the strategies mentioned earlier (DSRP, SCA, LOASP).
Ladies and gentlemen,
The justification for the magnitude of all the actions proposed on a national and regional level results from the persistence, even the aggravation, of problems experienced over several decades and which we can sum up in these terms: “imbalance of international trade and aggravation of the world agricultural divide”.
Indeed, the rules, models, paradigms and requirements for the international trade of agricultural products have not brought about the desired changes in the Southern hemisphere.
To reach our development objectives, we now need to imagine a way to design models for agricultural development that take into account the assets and constraints of developing agricultural regions and at the same time to think of a way to restore balance to the framework of international disciplines in order to simultaneously encourage the development of agricultural zones and promote international exchanges.
This is what the Dakar International Agriculture Forum, initiated by President Abdoulaye Wade in February 2005, has been working on in order to participate effectively in the closing up of the world agricultural divide. I am pleased to see that the theme of the first conference organized by WOAgri: “In search of a strategy for world agriculture: how to combine liberalism and development?” is a continuation of the Dakar International Agriculture Forum. In other words, WOAgri is helping to close up the world agricultural divide.
This is why we heartily support all initiatives that aim to examine carefully these questions regarding the development of our agricultures in order to learn from them, identify the necessary reforms for a true fresh start, a new way that really takes into account the special and specific situations of all the actors involved.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I have followed your discussions of these questions this morning with interest. These essential questions were the subject of two round table discussions that dealt with the arguments defended by WOAgri. Let me mention them again:
> The first argument : “Agriculture is specific and strategic”, was developed during the first round table :
What are the stakes for world agriculture? Establishing a link between the Doha Round, the Millennium Round and the Rio Conference
> The second argument: “The current models skew international decisions: it is necessary to construct a new one adapted to the specific and strategic character of agriculture” was developed during the second round table:
New economic instruments to assist political decision-making
This work, which was carried out by distinguished public figures enabled us to emphasize the fact that the liberalization of international agricultural exchanges and the application of Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage have shown their limitations.
I also know that this afternoon there are two other round table discussions that will deal with the following issues:
> The third argument: “A liberalized agricultural market without any rules is like a democracy without any laws: it’s dangerous for countries throughout the world and the future of mankind” will be discussed during the third round table:
Regulated liberalism for sustainable globalization
> The fourth argument: “We must invent a new framework for action to meet the challenges of our century and create a World Organization for Agriculture” is discussed in detail during the final round table:
For world governance in agriculture
We have had an overview of the principles and utility of the NAR model (New Agricultural Regulations) that WOAgri and its partners have been building for several months.
This model aims to define a true forecasting model that is much more realistic and serious while respecting a philosophy of accuracy and transparency.
This conference has enabled us to outline innovative principles and develop guidelines for a fresh start.
We are convinced that in its final version and its implementation this new management system for Agriculture will provide new answers that are fair and sustainable in terms of world governance. We will strive to keep it from deviating from its fundamental founding principle: “abolish the world agricultural divide in the name of fairness”.
19 October 2006