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Thursday, 29 November 2007 - Brussels
Advancing African agriculture

European Parliament resolution of 29 November 2007 on Advancing African Agriculture - Proposal for agricultural development and food security in Africa (2007/2231(INI))

The European Parliament,

   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled "Advancing African Agriculture - Proposal for continental and regional level cooperation on agricultural development in Africa" of 24 July 2007 (COM(2007)0440),

   having regard to the commitments arising from the Second European Forum on Sustainable Development held in Berlin on 18-21 June 2007,

–   having regard to Commission Communication to the European Parliament and the Council of 27 June 2007 entitled "From Cairo to Lisbon – The EU-Africa Strategic Partnership" (COM(2007)0357),

–   having regard to the Commission/Council Secretariat Joint Paper of 27 June 2007 entitled "Beyond Lisbon: making the EU-Africa strategic partnership work" (SEC(2007)0856),

   having regard to the resolution on poverty reduction for small farmers in ACP countries - in particular in the fruit, vegetable and flowers sectors, adopted by the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in Wiesbaden on 28 June 2007(1),

–   having regard to the Strategic Plan 2006-2010 "One Africa, Once Voice" of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) adopted in November 2005,

–   having regard to the EU strategy entitled "The EU and Africa: Towards a Strategic Partnership" (The European Strategy for Africa), adopted by the European Council of 15 and 16 December 2005,

   having regard to the results and conclusions of the African Civil Society Organisations" consultation on AU/EU Joint Strategy for Africa's Development organised by the African Union Commission (AUC) in Accra, Ghana, on 26-28 March 2007,

   having regard to the Final Declaration on "A Farmers" Vision of What Agriculture for NEPAD" adopted by representatives of the four African regional farmers" networks in Pretoria on 25 April 2004,

–   having regard to the Declaration of the Abuja Food Security Summit of December 2006,

–   having regard to its resolution of 17 November 2005 on a development strategy for Africa(2),

–   having regard to its resolution of 23 March 2006 on the development impact of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)(3),

–   having regard to the UN report on food security in the developing countries, presented by the UN Special rapporteur to the UN Commission on Human Rights in March 2002,

–   having regard to the Millennium Development Goals, adopted at the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in September 2000, and in particular to the Millennium Development Goal on the principle of the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger reduction by halving the number of people who suffer from hunger by 2015,

–   having regard to the annual reports by the Secretary-General of the UN on the implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration, the latest of which dates from July 2006,

–   having regard to the Food Aid Convention signed in London on 13 April 1999, whose objectives are to contribute to world food security and to improve the ability of the international community to respond to emergency food situations and other food needs of developing countries,

–   having regard to the Commission's Report on "Millennium Development Goals 2000–2004" (SEC(2004)1379),

–   having regard to its resolutions of 12 April 2005 on the role of the European Union in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)(4) and of 20 June 2007 on the Millennium Development Goals – the midway point(5),

–   having regard to the Presidency Conclusions of the Brussels European Council of 16 and 17 December 2004, confirming the full commitment of the European Union to the MDGs and policy coherence,

–   having regard to the Joint Statement by the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission on European Union Development Policy: 'The European Consensus' (The European Consensus on Development) signed on 20 December 2005(6),

–   having regard to the Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, of the one part, and the Community and its Member States, of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000(7), as amended by the Agreement amending the Partnership Agreement (the Cotonou Agreement), signed in Luxembourg on 25 June 2005(8),

–   having regard to the Rome Declaration on Harmonisation, adopted on 25 February 2003 following the High Level Forum on Harmonisation, and the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, adopted on 2 March 2005,

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1905/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation (hereinafter 'Development Cooperation Instrument' (DCI))(9),

–   having regard to the 2005 G-8 Gleneagles commitments on aid volume, aid to Sub-Saharan Africa and aid quality,

–   having regard to the United Nations Convention of 18 December 1979 on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW),

–   having regard to the International Conference on Development Funding held in Monterrey in March 2002, and to the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in September 2002,

–   having regard to the New York Declaration on Action against Hunger and Poverty of 20 September 2004, signed by 111 national governments, including all the EU Member States,

–   having regard to the World Food Summit's pledge in 1996 to reduce the number of hungry people by half by the year 2015,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled "EU Aid: Delivering more, better and faster" (COM(2006)0087),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled "Accelerating progress towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals – Financing for Development and Aid Effectiveness" (COM(2005)0133),

–   having regard to the Mid-Term Review of the EPAs by the ACP regional network of farmers' organisations, published on 10 December 2006 and the ongoing EPA negotiations,

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Development (A6-0432/2007),

A.   whereas agriculture is the major sector of occupation for the majority of African countries and the main source of revenue depends on agricultural production and related activities,

B.   whereas the main purpose of the Commission Communication on "Advancing African Agriculture" is to propose principles and key areas for EU-AU (African Union) cooperation in agricultural development in Africa, focusing on regional and continental levels,

C.   whereas both the European Consensus and the EU Strategy for Africa reiterate that agriculture and rural development are crucial for poverty reduction,

D.   whereas in Sub-Saharan Africa alone more than 200 million people are undernourished, an increase of 30 million from a decade ago and whereas the majority of these people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their income and food security,

E.   whereas it is the right of everyone to have access to healthy, safe and nutritious food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger,

F.   whereas the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger is the first of the United Nations MDGs,

G.   whereas, at the Second EU-Africa Summit, to be held in Lisbon in December 2007, the Heads of State and Government are to approve a Joint EU-Africa Strategy,

H.  H, whereas the Declaration of the "World Food Summit: Five Years Later" restates the commitments to achieving food security for all and to an ongoing effort to eradicate hunger in all countries, with an immediate target of reducing the number of undernourished people by half no later than 2015,

I.   whereas in Africa up to 80% of the population live in rural areas and 73% of the rural population in Africa consists of smallholder subsistence farmers, dependent for a large part of their livelihood on food production through farming or livestock keeping,

J.   whereas agriculture provides employment and livelihoods for more than 60% of the labour force in developing countries, and, as a consequence, rural development policies are essential in order to tackle poverty and hunger effectively,

K.   whereas rural communities face particularly high risks from conflict, natural disasters and other catastrophes,

L.   whereas 70 % of the 1.3 billion people living in extreme poverty are women and, throughout the world, women are denied the necessary opportunities to improve their economic and social conditions, such as property or inheritance rights, or access to education or jobs,

M.   whereas traditional financial institutions tend not to provide credit in rural areas due to the high costs and risks involved, as well as due to the lack of formal land registries,

N.   whereas, according to the Second UN World Water Development Report (2006), 75% of the population of Africa live in arid or semi-arid regions and around 20% in areas where there are wide annual climate fluctuations,

O.   whereas remote rural areas (RRAs) suffer disproportionately from lack of physical infrastructure for energy supply, transport and telecommunications and often have inadequate or unreliable water resources,

P.   whereas poverty-related diseases, especially HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria, are a major cause as well as a consequence of serious poverty in many African countries,

Q.   whereas European NGOs have established partnership relations with rural peoples" organisations in Africa over the years and in the process have facilitated dialogue and mutual understanding with European civil society and have accumulated significant experience in promoting smallholder farming,

R.   whereas in its resolution of 6 July 2006 on Fair Trade and Development(10) Parliament recognised the role of Fair Trade in improving the livelihoods of small farmers and producers in the developing world, providing as it does a sustainable model of production with guaranteed returns for the producer,

S.   whereas the current EPA negotiating process presents both opportunities and challenges for ACP countries, and in particular for the agricultural sector in many African countries,

T.   whereas parliaments, as primary actors in the development process, have to be actively involved in strategies and action plans affecting the populations they represent,

1.  Welcomes the above-mentioned Communication on "Advancing African Agriculture" and especially the statement that "agriculture and rural development are crucial in terms of reducing poverty and stimulating growth"; agrees that "for growth to have a poverty reducing effect, it needs to be broad-based, smallholder oriented and result in enhanced labour opportunities" but regrets that this statement appears only in the annexed Staff Working Document and not in the text of the Communication itself;

2.  Welcomes the recognition of differences between African countries, as it is essential to take into account the variations and disparities which exist not only at the regional level in Africa, but also within African countries as well;

3.  Concurs with the view, expressed in the Discussion Paper issued by the Commission in January 2007 prior to the above-mentioned Communication on "Advancing African Agriculture" that: "...[if] Africa has a long history of often costly State intervention in agriculture with mixed levels of effectiveness, subsequent liberalisation processes have also not been complete, convincing and/or successful";

4.  Concurs that competitiveness on regional and international markets is a priority; in this context, underlines the importance of giving support and assistance to small producers allowing them sufficient access to these markets;

5.  Stresses the importance of integrating regional markets in Africa and of gradually lifting barriers between African countries in order to enlarge markets for producers;

6.  Emphasises the important role which the EU should play, in international institutions such as the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, defending vigorously the right of African States to protect national and regional markets on the African continent against imports threatening the survival of local producers of essential agricultural products;

7.  Welcomes the wide consultation approach that the Commission adopted for issuing the Communication;

8.  Hopes that such an approach will not remain an isolated case but will form part of a mechanism enabling civil society and democratic institutions in Europe and Africa to participate, as called for in the above-mentioned Commission/Council Secretariat Joint Paper "Beyond Lisbon: Making the EU-Africa Strategic Partnership Work"; requests that the Commission set in motion a process of negotiation with parliaments and civil society actors regarding their roles in implementing and monitoring the Joint EU-Africa Strategy;

9.  Calls on the African Union to revisit with renewed vigour its commitment to the values espoused in the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, which the predecessor to the AU, the Organisation of African Unity, pioneered, and to which Zimbabwe is also a signatory;

10.  Stresses the importance of promoting greater involvement on the part of governments, local authorities and both national and regional parliaments in decision-making processes relating to agricultural policy and food security, and also of facilitating more extensive participation by civil society; in this context invites the Commission to support the formulation and the application of regional common agricultural policies, with the effective participation of stakeholders;

11.  Expresses concern at the lack of clarity as regards the Communication's decision-making process, both within the EU and outside (as it relates to negotiations with African governments); hence, calls for greater transparency in the negotiations which the Commission is conducting with African governments for the purpose of establishing EU-AU cooperation in respect of agricultural development in Africa;

12.  Points out that the proposal to cooperate mainly with African continental and regional organisations, notably the AUC, NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development) and RECs (Regional Economic Communities), should also involve mechanisms to include interest groups, grassroots movements and civil society to better enable poor rural farmers to influence policy processes in a meaningful way;

13.  Regrets the fact that in the EU-Africa Joint Strategy the problems relating to rural development and food security in Africa are only briefly outlined; hopes that this will be compensated by more substance in the Action Plan that is foreseen to accompany the Joint Strategy;

14.  Points to the need for the Member States and the Commission to ensure that development aid is coordinated and harmonised to a greater extent and, in general, to meet without delay all the other objectives set as part of the process of enhancing the effectiveness of European development cooperation;

15.  Stresses how important it is for the Commission and the Member States to indicate clearly the way in which the beneficiary countries and civil society will secure full control over their development policies and to introduce performance indicators enabling national and regional parliaments and civil society to monitor the impact of development aid;

16.  Stresses the importance of negotiations at European level including exchanges of views with consumers, producers and sectoral organisations, including from development countries, with a view to ensuring that the agro-industrial and processing sectors play a full, rather than a secondary, role;

17.  Stresses the need to strengthen a knowledge based African bio-economy, and therefore calls on Member States to share their agronomic know-how with African researchers and farmers and to share technology as well as other innovative methods in the agricultural sector with African countries in order to enhance their competitivity and to increase the added value of agriculture on the continent;

18.  Stresses the need to respect the intellectual property rights of African research and knowledge; calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to improve European legislation so that the benefits of sometimes ancient knowledge of the (e.g. pharmaceutical) potential of plants flow back to those who discovered them at a grass roots level;

19.  Calls on the Member States to indicate annually and with the utmost transparency their financial commitments to development aid and for the amounts assigned to initiatives which are not directly related to development (such as debt relief) to be specifically excluded from the calculation of the total expenditure on development aid eligible for classification as Official Development Assistance (ODA) under the rules of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD/DAC); points out in this connection that Parliament will be keeping a particularly close eye on the discussions on this issue within the OECD/DAC;

20.  Insists that food-aid policies and programmes must not prevent the development of local and national food-production capacity or contribute to dependence, the distortion of local and national markets, corruption and the use of foodstuffs which are harmful to health (GMOs);

21.  Calls on international bodies to implement policies which will gradually take the place of food aid by promoting support for, and the development of, local agriculture; should food aid be the sole alternative, insists that priority be given to local purchases, and/or purchases in areas adjacent to a country in difficulty or in the region;

22.  Stresses the importance of increasing the financial resources allocated by donors to rural development and food security and emphasises the need for African governments to include the agricultural sector among their political priorities in order to receive support within the framework of the European Development Fund;

23.  Stresses that EU policies in different fields should be coherent as to their overall objectives, insists that the EU trade policy and the Common Agricultural Policy should be coherent with the EU development policy, and therefore stresses the need to lift tariff barriers on all agricultural products - raw and processed goods - in order to rapidly open the European market for all agricultural products from the African continent;

24.  Calls on the EU to establish a timetable leading to the abolition of agricultural export policies which are damaging to vulnerable agricultural businesses in the developing countries and to put pressure on other international actors to do the same;

25.  Recognises the opportunities afforded by EPAs in facilitating agricultural trade, but reminds the Commission, in this connection, that those agreements have not yet been signed and that there are still a number of contentious issues to be resolved;

26.  Recognises that the EPAs can become an important tool for African trade and regional integration, but only on condition that they are "development-friendly", allowing for exemptions and long transition periods where needed in order for domestic producers and "infant" industries to adapt to new market situations;

27.  Stresses the need for policies to be implemented which will counter imports of devastating agri-food products which are damaging to local production and which will take into account the geographical, historical and cultural diversity of African countries by enhancing the contribution made by rural and indigenous communities towards ensuring that resources are managed sustainably;

28.  Regrets the fact that in the above-mentioned Communication entitled "Advancing African Agriculture" the market in biofuels has been lumped together with other niche markets, since the expansion of the emerging biofuels industry could also have a detrimental effect on foods supplies, given that the growing of biomass could take land, water and other resources away from agricultural production; agrees, however, that it is important for markets in organic products and for fair, mutually beneficial trade to be supported;

29.  Restates the need for development-aid policies and programmes to support the right of each individual people to establish its own food strategies and to protect and regulate national agricultural production and the local market;

30.  Draws attention to the inconsistency of the above-mentioned Communication entitled "Advancing African Agriculture", which highlights the importance of the role played by women in African agricultural production, but does not mention them in the chapter concerning areas of cooperation; points out, however, that agricultural development measures in Africa should be directed first and foremost towards women, with specific policies being introduced to ensure access to and control over productive resources, particularly land rights, capacity building, funding for micro-enterprises, better living conditions, food and health welfare, education and more active involvement in social and political life;

31.  Stresses the need to support the creation, organisation and strengthening of farmers groups, especially women farmers, at the national and regional level;

32.  Underlines the fact that the Communication misses a seemingly obvious point that aid should be directed, as a priority, to the less-favoured groups and less-favoured areas (remote rural areas - RRAs) first, where geographical isolation and physical constraints on agricultural productivity exacerbate the level of chronic poverty;

33.  Restates the need for the Member States to honour the commitment to achieving a lasting peace in Africa as a precondition of food security and thus to give particular priority to the promotion of peace; urges the governments of both North and South to seek peaceful solutions to conflicts and reiterates the need to put a halt to trafficking in weapons and in anti-personnel mines;

34.  Stresses the importance (in order to make a valid and effective contribution to combating poverty) of promoting micro-finance instruments, particularly micro-credit programmes, as an essential component in economic development policies in the agricultural sector;

35.  Reaffirms that agriculture must ensure that poor rural people have equitable access to and control over their land, water and the resources necessary to maintain their livelihoods in a sustainable manner;

36.  Calls for the right to water for all to be upheld at international level, since water resources are a public utility to be conserved for future generations in particular;

37.  Calls on the African governments to promote agrarian reform in their countries in order to allow the rural population secured access to land and to production resources, particularly in the case of country families who have no property title; in this context, calls for the Action Plan accompanying the Joint EU-Africa Strategy to put a high priority on the establishment and improvement of land registries, and on the strengthening of legal systems to allow tribunals to effectively enforce property law;

38.  Draws renewed attention to the key issue of land property rights in maximising development potential, recognising that title deeds enable the borrowing of money at reasonable rates of interest, which can then be used to establish and develop business and therefore urges as a high priority the establishing and/or improving of land registries and provision of resources for mapping and registration of land, and for tribunals to enforce property;

39.  Calls on the African governments to encourage greater diversification in production models (so as to avoid the institution of intensive monocrop systems) and to encourage sustainable production models which are better adapted to their contexts; [or. FR]

40.  Insists that the production of biofuels are of potentially high importance to the agriculture in African countries, but that the environmental benefits depend largely on the type of energy crop as well as on the energy absorbed in the whole production chain, whereas the real benefits in terms of CO2 reduction still need to be ascertained, and whereas the highest priority should be given to avoid the possible damage to nature and the environment of an uncontrolled increase of the production of biofuels;

41.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to devise more effective development policies which will enable more extensive basic infrastructure serving the agricultural sector (irrigation, electricity, transport, road network, etc) to be established and the funds allocated to essential public services of this nature to be better distributed;

42.  Believes that accessible and well targeted information must be made available to small scale farmers and should be widely disseminated in local languages, for example through rural radio stations, and stresses the need to develop information and communication technologies to reduce the digital divide in rural areas;

43.  Insists on the need for policies to be implemented which will support practices and techniques which are compatible with the environment and with the management of natural resources (this being essential to harmonious, sustainable development) and which will ensure that agricultural land and agri-eco systems are better cared for, so as to prevent any worsening of the current desertification processes;

44.  Calls on the EU to promote a more effective integration of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) national plans into the national development strategies of African partners;

45.  Invites the Commission to build effective collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) based on the comparative advantages of these institutions in the field of agricultural and rural development;

46.  Calls on the international community and the African governments to make a joint commitment to fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic;

47.  Supports efforts at national and regional level to involve rural stakeholders and their representative organisations in the consultation process on policy issues which affect them; notes that capacity building in people-centred advocacy for rural populations is essential to this process; stresses that supporting smallholder, family farming, as well as agro-ecological practices, are key strategies for achieving poverty alleviation and food security;

48.  Stresses that the use and abuse of children in agricultural work in Africa is widespread and unregulated and calls on the Community to support international efforts, particularly by the FAO and the International Labour Organization, to combat this substantial problem;

49.  Urges measures to improve training to enable young people to pursue higher education in agricultural science and technology, as well as to create job opportunities for agriculture graduates with the main purpose of reducing migration from rural to urban areas, and indeed, from developing countries to developed countries, and stresses that this must linked to the strengthening of local governments and authorities to make territorial management by local communities a reality;

50.  Calls for the joint strategy to address the root causes of migration and to pay particular attention to the issue of brain drain; and stresses that whilst limiting migration to the EU should not be considered a condition for aid, urges nonetheless a greater awareness of the huge damage migration causes to the social fabric in Africa, and its negative consequences in inhibiting progress towards reaching Africa's full development potential;

51.  Draws attention to the need for a comprehensive approach in the field of migration policy to be promoted on the basis of the principles of solidarity with African countries and of co-development, and calls for a stronger partnership between local institutions and those based in the Member States;

52.  Supports the Commission proposal to encourage circular migration in order to encourage the circulation of acquired knowledge and experience, and encourages co-development initiatives in order to enhance the contribution made by migrants" communities to the development of their countries of origin;

53.  Recommends that accurate information be issued as regards what is being done to support the agricultural sector, rural development and food security in Africa, in order to encourage greater awareness and consequently to increase donors" commitment;

54.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the African Union Commission, the African Union Executive Council, the Pan-African Parliament, the ACP Council of Ministers and the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.

(1) OJ C 254, 26.10.2007, p. 25.
(2) OJ C 280 E, 18.11.2006, p. 475.
(3) OJ C292E, 1.12.2006, p.121.
(4) OJ C 33 E, 9.2.2006, p. 311.
(5) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2007)0274.
(6) OJ C 46, 24.2.2006, p. 1.
(7) OJ L 317, 15.12.2000, p. 3.
(8) OJ L 209, 11.8.2005, p. 27.
(9) OJ L 378, 27.12.2006, p. 41.
(10) OJ C 303 E, 13.12.2006, p. 865.

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