Ministers of Agriculture of Africa and the Americas have promised their commitment to work together, to develop a cooperation agenda, to address common challenges and opportunities with respect to transforming their agrifood systems for sustainability and inclusiveness.
The agreement was reached during the First High-Level Roundtable between Africa and the Americas, convened and organised by the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), entitled “Building Bridges for Future Cooperation in Agrifood Systems.”
The participants at the virtual event agreed that, beyond the cultural and historical similarities and differences between the Americas and Africa, the continents face a unique and common challenge: that of building knowledge-intensive agriculture, with a human face, while caring for the environment and considering the areas of nutrition and health, which, they agreed, is necessary to produce more and higher quality food.
They agreed to develop agendas throughout the year to link technical assistance institutions for agriculture – such as Brazil’s Embrapa, Argentina’s INTA 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. They also proposed holding a ministerial summit on agriculture in Africa and the Americas in the second half of this year.
The former Minister of Agriculture of Rwanda, Agnes Kalibata, said: “I wish to thank Manuel Otero for building bridges between the two continents, given the fact that, from the perspective of South-South Cooperation, we face common challenges. I have visited Brazil and other Latin American countries and I am certain that we must learn from them. I am impressed by the progress Latin America has achieved in scientific research and trade.”
Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply of Brazil, Tereza Cristina agreed that there is room to engage in valuable cooperation between the two continents. “It is crucial to simultaneously address agriculture and food security, as well as to reflect on free and fair agricultural trade and sustainability.”
The Brazilian Minister of Agriculture associated the sustainability of agrifood systems with the need for international agricultural trade to be transparent and fair.
She was also critical of the “protectionism of developed countries, which has hindered the capacity of developing countries to consolidate on modern and dynamic food production”.
Former Prime Minister, Republic of Ethiopia and President of AGRA’s Board of Directors, Hailemariam Desalegn, noted that, with support from Brazil, his country has achieved positive results in the fight against hunger, noting that African countries are eager to share experiences with Latin American and Caribbean nations.
“African economies have grown in recent decades, reflected in their agrifood systems, despite catastrophes such as droughts and floods and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. As a region, Africa lacks access to modern technologies and mechanized tools that allow for increasing productive variety and quality as well as expanding the percentage of arable land…” he said.