IVORY COAST – The African Development Bank (AfDB), in collaboration with The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union Commission (AUC) under the auspices of the Joint Secretariat Support Office (JSSO), launched the agriculture, food security and land use joint Thematic Working Group (TWG) in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

The Thematic Working Group enhances strategic partnership between countries and international organizations to accelerate Africa’s transformation and serve as a platform for information and knowledge sharing.

The main focus areas of the initiative will be coordination of seed systems development, establishment of food safety laboratories and food safety agency, enhance access to agricultural mechanization services for Women and African Land Policy Reform.

In addition, it will work mainly on supporting African countries and regional economic commissions (RECs) to rollout the common Africa Agro-Parks (CAAPS) and Staple Agro-industrial processing zones (SAPZs) initiatives.

Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union Commission said, “By 2025, if we can have 70% of ending the hunger on the continent, it will be a great thing.”

He added that the joint thematic working group that is bringing together ECA, AfDB and AU is the best way forward to really achieve set objectives.

Stephen Karingi, Director, Regional Integration Division at ECA, lauded the initiative and linked it to the focus area on the African Continental Free Trade Area noting, “We can’t have a successful AfCFTA without agriculture and food security.”

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a free trade area, outlined in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union nations.

The free-trade area is the largest in the world in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization.

The agreement was brokered by the African Union (AU) and was signed on by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018.

The agreement initially requires members to remove tariffs from 90% of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52 percent by 2022.