President Uhuru Kenyatta has emphasized the need for Africa and Europe to forge a mutually beneficial partnership that will boost agricultural production while at the same time addressing climate change concerns.
While acknowledging the progress African countries have made under the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA), President Kenyatta said swift measures should be put in place to address agriculture sector vulnerabilities, enhance resilience of farmers, ensure food security, poverty reduction and empower farmers to actively engage in climate action.
KJWA is a landmark decision under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that recognizes the unique potential of agriculture in tackling climate change.
“Tri-lateral cooperation between the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations through its various agencies will be critical in ensuring that the agriculture sector adapts to climate change,” President Kenyatta said.
The Head of State spoke on Thursday when he co-chaired with Prime Minister Michael Martin of Ireland a roundtable session on agriculture and sustainable development during the 6th African Union (AU) - European Union (EU) Summit in Brussels, Belgium.
President Kenyatta said barriers that hinder access to appropriate climate technologies to tackle climate change should be removed as a matter of priority as part of measures aimed at improving agricultural productivity.
At the same time, the President said improving the functioning of markets and trading systems, strengthening international cooperation for developing countries, increasing public and private investment in agriculture and land management were key in increasing sustainable agricultural productivity globally.
The Head of State noted that investment in appropriate infrastructure and technology is also important if countries are to reduce post-harvest and other food losses and waste throughout the food supply chain.
“Going forward, the Africa-Europe partnership needs to accelerate the progress on agriculture’s contribution to economic growth and transformation for shared prosperity and improved livelihoods for all in line with delivering on the Malabo Goals and targets,” he said.
He underscored the importance of empowering rural women, saying they are critical in enhancing agricultural production, food security and nutrition as well as rural development.
On curbing deforestation, President Kenyatta commended the EU for making good progress in preventing deforestation and forest degradation associated with commodities placed on the EU market.
The President, however, expressed concern that the regulations requiring commodities or products from the said value chains not to have been produced on deforested or degraded land may present a challenge to small-scale farmers in Africa.
“African countries are concerned that the proposed implementation by 2023 will be too soon for countries to put in place the mandatory compliance requirements.
“The regulation must also be in compliance with World Trade Organization (WTO) requirements on fair trade. The regulation should not contribute to protectionist trade affecting developing countries trading in agricultural commodities,” President Kenyatta said.
He said despite the hurdle, there is still an opportunity for AU and EU to partner to build the required capacity for the benefit of the value chain actors.
President Kenyatta observed that the EU must be cognizant of regional programs and policy frameworks in partnering with Africa including the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
He added that the Africa-Europe partnership should also be structured in a way that promotes private sector initiatives in value addition and manufacturing chains for agricultural products in African countries.
“The Africa – Europe partnership and in this context should be investments aimed at the realization of European priorities but also Africa’s priorities,” he said.
On the margins of the AU-EU summit, President Kenyatta also met President Emmanuel Macron of France and held talks centred on strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries.