The Annual General Meeting of AgriCord/Agriterra on 15, 16 and 17 May 2019 in Rotterdam was a great success. European Commissioner Phil Hogan, Dutch Minister of Agriculture Carola Schouten, President of LTO Marc Calon, Vice President of CEJA Iris Bouwers and Kees Blokland of Agriterra attended the panel debate on 16 May with young guest farmers and Dutch farmers. The young guest farmers from Africa and Europe presented an approach on how to implement the six recommendations of the EC Task Force Report for future collaboration between the European Union and Africa, as they are the farmers of the future.
On day 1 the Task Force Rural Africa Report was introduced by Bruno Declercq and Christina Gozalvez of the European Commission. They stated we do not need new initiatives, but structured partnerships and investments are needed. Africa has identified agricultural sector opportunities and it now needs to develop its own policy with representation of their farmer organisations and youth.
1. Support local action programmes in Africa, including local people and knowledge
2. Ensure environmental sustainability and promote climate action
3. Start a knowledge, innovation and networking hub to support the transformation of agriculture and rural areas
4. Improve access to private finance and to EU cooperation instruments for agriculture and food businesses
5. Scale up sustainable value chain development, regional integration and intra-regional trade
6. Share together European and African expertise through twinning and exchange programmes
In June 2019, an action plan is being presented in Rome.
Phil Hogan, initiator of the report “It is important that the report becomes reality. Work is done from people to people and business to business. These partnerships are important. Europe provides technical and financial assistance, but we need Africa to lead.”
Carola Schouten, Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality “To just produce more food is not an option, we need sustainable systems of production. It is about the future of our young farmers and of the society as a whole.”
Marc Calon, President of LTO “Cooperatives empower farmers so they can earn their own money and produce food and take care of the environment and landscapes. By sharing knowhow and collaborating the cooperative model grows.”
Iris Bouwers, Vice President of CEJA “In my experience diversity in cooperative boards is important. When there is diversity in age and gender, it becomes interesting and opportunities are created.”
Kees Blokland, Managing Director of Agriterra and member of the Task Force “Farmers are going to create employment. Farmer organisations are useful mechanisms for this. It is not so much about money, but about cooperation. Governments and businesses are useful aggregators, the farmers are the doers. A comprehensive partnership on three levels, society, business and government, is needed to boost youth employment on the continent.”