PRESS RELEASE: Kees Blokland joins EU Task Force Rural Africa
Kees Blokland, director of Agriterra, will be a member of the new "EU Taskforce Rural Africa". This group consists of 11 experts in the field of agriculture, trade and migration, and was created by Euro commissioner Phil Hogan (Agriculture and Rural Development).
By January 2019, the expert group must compile a report to provide substance to a new objective of European agricultural policy, namely tackling the root cause of migration from Africa by making a better and stronger commitment to economic development and knowledge exchange. This report will be the basis for initiatives in the joint Africa-EU strategy between African and European governments.
Kees Blokland: "Commissioner Hogan wants to change the donor mentality in EU-Africa relations and forge equal partnerships between policy makers, farmers' organisations, investors and agribusiness on both sides of the Mediterranean. We have a worldwide leading position in European agriculture, and that will only strengthen this approach. With this task force, we need to focus on economic growth in rural Africa. Because ultimately, in the long run the creation of jobs and added value to the agricultural sector in Africa is the solution to preventing population displacements, environmental disasters and poverty. A good investment climate and thorough agricultural policy are crucial in this, as the Netherlands and Europe’s history has taught us."
In addition to providing substance to the new European agricultural policy in regards to Africa, the job description of the task force will be focusing on a number of other, specific objectives. The task force needs to present proposals on how the EU can contribute to the Sustainability Goals (SDGs) of the UN. They should also advise the EU on how to deal with the aging population in rural Africa. Finally, the task force needs to present proposals for better coordination between the different government programs and the active players in the field of agriculture and economic development in Africa.
Kees Blokland: “The appointment is on a personal level, but in my opinion the European Commission also values Agriterra's approach with this nomination, which combines Dutch farmers' knowledge with its local presence in Africa.” This approach and nomination is supported by the European organisation Copa-Cogeca of farmer organisations and cooperatives, farmer organisations from several European countries by Agricord, the alliance of agri-agencies. The first meeting of the Task Force with Euro commissioner Hogan will take place on May 24th.