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Advancing African agriculture

This summary has been archived and will not be updated, because the summarised document is no longer in force or does not reflect the current situation.

Advancing African agriculture

The European Union intends to support agricultural development in Africa within the framework of long-term cooperation with African organisations at regional and continental level. This support will reinforce growth in the sector, thanks to improved agricultural policies and governance in particular.

Cooperation will focus on sub-Saharan Africa where agricultural development will be the most important means of achieving the Millennium Development Goals with respect to the reduction of poverty and hunger.


Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 24 July 2007 – Advancing African Agriculture – Proposal for continental and regional level cooperation on agricultural development in Africa [COM(2007) 440 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


Agriculture * and rural development are essential to reducing poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa. Agriculture plays a key role in the continent’s economic growth by contributing a third of its gross domestic product (GDP) and accounting for the majority of jobs. It is associated with issues of food security, the affordability of social services in rural areas and the preservation of ecosystems and biodiversity.

In order to support the development of agriculture in Africa, the European Union (EU) is proposing a framework of cooperation with the African Union (AU) at the continental and regional levels. By focusing on capacity building and institutional strengthening of regional and continental organisations, this cooperation will complement and stimulate agricultural development at national level. Generally speaking, the public sector should play a more effective role in agriculture by ensuring a suitable regulatory framework and by intervening in situations of market failure.

Cooperation will build on the principles set out in the “consensus on development” and the strategy for Africa and on the priorities defined by the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) launched by the AU and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). It will also be guided by a concern for donor harmonisation and alignment, as per the Paris declaration (pdf), and consistency with other EU policies, in the agricultural, fishing, trade, consumer protection and energy fields in particular.

Based on the priorities set out in the CAADP, the Commission is proposing the following cooperation areas:

  • Integration of agriculture in development programmes at the national, regional and continental levels with a view to elaborating coherent development policies, strategies and budgets.
  • Strengthening of agricultural sector governance in order to facilitate the transition from smallholder farming to a commercially viable and sustainable family-based agriculture. The measures envisaged focus on such things as coherence between regional and national agricultural policies and the promotion of public-private partnerships. Cooperation is also aimed at regional and continental organisations representing producers and professional associations, with a view to increasing their capacity to participate in policy planning and implementation.
  • Development of agricultural research and knowledge systems by promoting greater operator use of existing innovations, facilitating access to knowledge and improving the coordination of agricultural research programmes at the national, regional and international levels. This development will improve sustainable rural productivity and enhance the nutritional value of agricultural products.
  • Improvement of the functioning of regional agricultural product markets in order to allow access to lucrative markets and guarantee product safety for consumers. Specifically, this includes facilitating physical access to markets, exploiting commercial outlets and establishing suitable legal and regulatory frameworks (e.g. as regards sanitary and phytosanitary measures).
  • Strengthening of effective natural resource management in order to ensure sustainable and profitable use of land, fish and forest resources. In particular, this includes the elaboration of regional and continental guidelines and cooperation to combat the illegal use of resources.
  • Increasing the viability of the livestock sector by strengthening disease control knowledge in order to reduce animal mortality and improve prevention. Cooperation also aims at improving soil use and confronting environmental problems associated with stock rearing.
  • Reduction of risks associated with price fluctuations, market insecurity, climate change and natural disasters. Measures under consideration include the development of capacity as regards disaster preparedness, prevention and response as well as better access to international insurance markets.

Implementation of cooperation will be based on several partners, including the AU Commission, NEPAD and the Regional Economic Communities (REC).

Coordination will function at three levels:

  • with African institutions, within the framework of the CAADP. The AU Commission and NEPAD will play a key role at this level;
  • with other donors, through the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development (GDPRD), which includes the Commission and several Member States;
  • within the EU, by improving the exchange of information and by developing joint assistance initiatives for African agriculture.

Cooperation follow-up will be ensured by the CAADP partnership platform and the Africa Partnership Forum (APF). The GDPRD will ensure the follow-up for projects and programmes funded by donors as well as harmonisation and alignment.

The relevance of the strategic orientations as regards agricultural cooperation will be reviewed through the same process as the AU global cooperation programme.

Keywords of the Act

  • Agriculture: the word includes crop growing, stock rearing, fishing and forestry.

Last updated: 07.11.2007