Rome, 2 July 2017 – Agro-industrial development in Africa is key to fostering sustainable economic growth and creating jobs for youth and women, said UNIDO Director General LI Yong at the African Union – European Union Agriculture Ministerial Conference held today at the Headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, Italy.
Themed “Making Sustainable Agriculture a future for youth in Africa”, the event aimed to build up political engagement ahead of the 5th Africa-EU Summit on the importance of agricultural development for structural transformation in Africa. The participants worked on creating a common vision for generating sustainable and inclusive economic growth and supporting job creation for African youth in the agri-food sector – in line with the implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, the Malabo Declaration and the Paris Agreement.
“Agriculture and agro-industry are closely connected. While agriculture is essential to satisfy the basic needs of the population, it can contribute much more to growth and job creation, beyond production activities,” said Director General Li during his key-note speech. “Through agro-industrial value addition, youth and women will find new opportunities for better and more skilled jobs and for higher incomes.”
The event focused on topics such as increasing responsible private investment in the agri-food sector in Africa; on research and innovation and the role of digitization in agriculture; on sustainable water management; on climate-smart agriculture; and on food losses and waste. The discussions contributed to identifying the priorities and actions to be supported by the new External Investment Plan launched by the European Union.
“Integrated agro-industrial parks can offer a supportive business environment and connect farmers to markets while offering many skilled jobs opportunities to youth and women in line with the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa 2016-2025,” said Josepha Sacko, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, in her remarks.
“In the future, the African Union, the European Union, UNIDO, FAO and IFAD should work together to implement the African Agro-Industry and Agribusiness Development Initiative (3ADI Plus) of Agenda 2063 and support the establishment of integrated agro-industrial parks in Africa,” DG Li said. “A supportive business environment will help the External Investment Plan leverage resources from development finance institutions and the private sector for large scale investments on the ground.”
The conclusions of the Conference will be reported to the 5th Africa – EU Summit to be held on 28 – 29 November 2017. They will be further complemented by a detailed and operational document providing guidance for action to be undertaken by the African Union, the European Union and their partners.
The event gathered more than 350 participants including agriculture ministers from Africa and Europe, officials from the European Union and the African Union officials and representatives of the private sector. It was hosted by the African Union Commission, the European Commission and the Estonian Presidency of the EU Council.
The DG’s mission to the Conference was coordinated by the UNIDO Office in Brussels.