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At a press briefing after the opening of the conference, the Commissioner of Trade and Industry at the AUC, Fatima Haram Acyl said that the conference aims to achieve issues such as coordinating market, integrating intra-African trade and investment and strengthen unity among states on international trade agreements so that Africa can address its priority issues such as agriculture, trade and business and infrastructure.
The Commissioner of Rural Economy and Agriculture, Tumusiime Rhoda Peace on her part indicated that the issues of agricultural production and trade are two interlinked matters that the continent has not made best use of. “Africa has great potentials in agriculture and trade. We must ensure that what is produced is traded, but we haven’t done much about trade within Africa,” the commissioner said.
The Commissioner also said that intra-African trade of agricultural products is very low while most agricultural products in the continent are imported from countries outside of the continent.
“Africa trades more with the outside world rather than with itself. Africa’s trade values are close to $40 billion to $60 billion with the outside world,” said the Commissioner, “had this money been invested within, it would have a crucial value in the development of agriculture,” she added.
She also stated that adding value and trading strategic commodities such as wheat would enable Africans to feed themselves. According to her, the conference is to focus on filling the gap for challenges in agricultural production and trading, employment in agricultural production as well as value chain in agricultural products.
The Ethiopian Minister of Agriculture, Wondirad Mandefro, mentioning Ethiopia’s experience indicated that value chain plays an important role in trading agricultural products for African nations. He also said that Ethiopia promotes cotton, sugar and palm as value added products in its agricultural market.
“Africa lacked the capacity to subsidize its small scale farmers who feed the majority of its population. Africa needs the support of the developed nations on how best it can support its smallscale farmers to achieve food security.”
Wondirad also said that the AU’s Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), provides with the necessary framework to shape agricultural policies for countries on the continent.
By Emnet Assefa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia