Address by the President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency, President Jacob G Zuma, on Sub-Theme 3: Millennium Development Goals on Agriculture and Food Security, at the 3rd Africa-European Union Summit, Tripoli, Libya, 29 November 2010

Your Excellencies, Your Majesties,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

The bread and butter of the African people is the rural economy. The vast majority of African people works and lives in rural areas; and the burden of most rural households lies on the shoulders of women.

Despite the fact that Africa has abundant arable land and human resources that could potentially be translated into increased production, income and food security, our continent remains a region with the highest proportion of people who suffer from hunger, including the largest population of people living below the poverty line.

Africa faces unique challenges with regard to agriculture and food security. These range from low productivity and poor infrastructure, to weak market access as well as weak institutions and policies.

Nearly all of Africa’s farming systems are dependent on rain-fed agriculture, and this makes our agricultural productivity entirely dependent on the environment and vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

In the light of this, Africa has prioritised agriculture and food security as the basis for socio-economic development, not least because of our conviction that our continent has the potential to be the breadbasket of the world.

Agriculture is the backbone of the rural economy and food security is a fundamental human right.

We need investment in agriculture to allow us to maximise this potential and contribute to job creation and food security. To this end, and within the framework of NEPAD, Africa has since developed the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP).

This programme aims to enhance investment in growth stimulating sectors, create on and off-farm jobs mainly for the youth and, thereby, significantly reduce poverty and hunger.

CAADP has targeted six (6) percent average annual sector growth rate at the national level and increasing investment by allocating at least 10 percent of national budgets to the agricultural sector. Noting the benefits associated with regional cooperation, CAADP pushes for the exploitation of regional complementarities and cooperation to boost growth.

However, it is of concern to us that while the EU participates in this partnership as the Union, it seems there is no recognition that we as Africa ought to participate in this partnership as the African Union (AU). 

To conclude, Excellencies, we should emphasize that as South Africa we take seriously the theme of this Summit, namely; Investment, Economic Growth, and Job Creation.  This theme is linked directly to the priorities we have set for ourselves. Our people – both in Africa and Europe – look up to us for this partnership to grow our economies and create decent jobs.  We as Africa recognise that Europe is important to us. But the question we would like to leave you with is: how important is Africa to Europe?

I thank you!

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