Ministers of agriculture of Africa and the Americas have launched a common agenda to focus on transforming their agri-food systems to make them more sustainable and inclusive.
The agreement was reached during the First High-Level Roundtable between Africa and the Americas, convened and organised by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), entitled 'Building Bridges for Future Cooperation in Agrifood Systems'.
During the meeting, the two continents agreed that they both face common challenges within the agriculture sector, but therein lies opportunities to bolster the innovation, environmental sustainability and profitability of farmers.
Throughout the year, they will develop agendas to link technical assistance institutions for agriculture – such as Brazil's Embrapa, Argentina's National Agricultural Technology Institute, and all national research organisations in Latin America and the Caribbean, which play a key role – and their scientists and professionals, in order to deepen exchanges.
Additionally,the meeting participants agreed to hold a broader ministerial summit between the two continents later this year, focusing on innovation issues that are considered essential to increase the productivity and sustainability of agri-food systems, such as digital agriculture and biotechnology research.
Other topics of common interest that emerged from the meeting were the recovery of degraded soils, efficient water management and the promotion of more open, fairer and more transparent international food trade.
The director general of IICA Manuel Otero underscored the need for more and better international cooperation given the complexities of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
“No country will emerge from this crisis on its own. We must stand together to address issues of a cross-cutting nature. Everything makes more sense if we build bridges. And that is exactly what IICA is doing — building bridges between stakeholders, countries, subregions and also with other continents. We must transform our consensus into actions that can transform the quality of life in rural areas, improve farmers' profitability and drive sustainable practices. To this end, we need more South-South cooperation. I am hopeful that we can advance towards a shared vision and a common agenda,” he said.
Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the countries of the Caribbean Community, Minister of Agriculture of Guyana Zulfikar Mustapha pointed out that one of the common challenges facing that subregion and African nations is their vulnerability to natural disasters due to climate change.
He said, “We can achieve positive results by working together on issues of common interest, one of the first of which is resilience.”
IICA is the specialised agency for agriculture in the inter-American system, with a mission to encourage, promote and support its 34-member states in their efforts to achieve agricultural development and rural well-being through international technical cooperation of excellence.