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European, African institutions sign charter to develop Africa's agro-pastoral sector

By Edith Mutethya in Nairobi, Kenya | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-01-12 20:15

More than 100 European and African participants have signed a charter of commitment to the development of agro-pastoral sectors in Africa, particularly in the Sahel region, which is identified as one of the global hotspots of climate change.

This move was motivated by the fact that Africa's agricultural sector represents an exceptional lever of growth, in addition to the sector's resilient capacities revealed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Unlike other industries that were hard hit by the pandemic, the agricultural sector was not severely affected by traffic restrictions. The high demand for food products in cities has been a powerful incentive to the increase and the flow of local production.

Those who launched the coalition, dubbed the International Agro-ecological Movement for Africa, on the sidelines of the One Planet Summit 2021 held virtually on Monday,, said agriculture should be one of the main levers of development on the continent.

Towards that end, they said modernization of the sector, particularly through agro-ecology, digital agriculture and social business, must once again become a priority.

The charter's signatories intend to jointly prospect and develop value chains that precisely meet African needs.

One of the key activities will be promoting technology transfers and appropriation of the know-how necessary for the sustainable implementation of the agricultural and livestock production sectors envisaged by the International Agro-ecological Movement for Africa.

The multilateral initiative was formalized in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Ghazaouani and the UK's Prince Charles.

"The objective of the signatories, through their commitment to deploying this approach in most of Africa, is to participate in the promotion of a strategy combining social, environmental and economic development in the service of prosperity, but also the preservation of biodiversity, and more generally, the stability of the continent," Karim Ait Talb, co-founder of the initiative, said.

He said structuring of agro-livestock value chains that encourage the deployment of agro-ecological practices and the creation of decent and sustainable jobs will be an important response to the adaptation of the Sahel region's populations and to mitigation of the effects of climate change, particularly in terms of migration flows and security challenges.

During the same event, the African Development Bank pledged to mobilize $6.5 billion in support of the Great Green Wall Initiative, whose plan is to plant an 8,000 kilometers long and 15 kilometers wide mosaic of trees, grasslands, vegetation and plants across the Sahara and Sahel regions.

"The Great Green Wall is part of Africa's environmental defense system - a shield against the onslaughts of desertification and degradation. The future of the Sahel region depends on the Great Green Wall. Without the Great Green Wall, the Sahel region as we know it may disappear," Akinwumi Adesina, the president of the African Development Bank, said.

The European Investment Bank and the Agence Française de Dévelopment also pledged $1.2 billion and $729.6 million, respectively, in new financial and technical support to back sustainable agriculture, clean energy, water, infrastructure and private sector financing in 11 Sahel countries

Lack of financing has been the project's major constraint to realizing its goal of creating 10 million jobs, sequestering 250 million tons of carbon and restoring 100 million hectares of degraded land in the Sahel-Sahara region.

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