Agricultural cooperation in Africa

shaking hands

Cooperation in agriculture often seems to be synonymous with farmers’ cooperatives. In fact, the definition of an agricultural cooperative is “a type of cooperative that unites agricultural producers for production or other activities needed by the members (such as processing, marketing of output or supply of the means of production).” Also through the actions of different stakeholders in the global agriculture value chain, an estimated one billion people worldwide are members of agricultural cooperatives.

Other opportunities for cooperation such as technical agricultural cooperation do not receive as much attention as farmer cooperation. These opportunities are however still very important.

For the last few years, Brazil and China’s agriculture cooperation in Africa has been systematically changing the paradigm of agricultural development in Africa. Brazil has been promoting itself as a source of cutting-edge expertise on tropical agriculture for Africa. Embrapa, a research institution renowned for its expertise in tropical agriculture, has, to a large extent, been the face of Brazilian cooperation. The institution offers training courses for researchers and practitioners from partner countries not only on technical tropical agriculture subjects but also on agricultural policy and institutions. Besides Embrapa there are at least 22 other Brazilian institution involved in technical cooperation in agriculture in Africa.

China- Africa agricultural cooperation has been ongoing since the 1950’s. Throughout this time, the Asian superpower has offered a combination of private investment and trade and cooperation agreements. Between the late 1950s and the late 1990s cooperation was project based and involved construction of farms, agricultural experiment stations, water conservation projects and concessional loans. However since 2000 cooperation has evolved to a more strategic and institutional development model with additions such as bilateral aid and multilateral mechanisms.

Brazilian experiences, expertise and technology are considered particularly relevant and relatively simpler to adapt to the African context than other models, due to a wide range of similarities between the two regions. In this regard, one can only imagine the opportunities for cooperation among African countries considering climatic, social and cultural similarities. Such cooperation unlike conventional cooperation agreements could deliver a strategic impact on African agriculture. It can ensure broad based ownership of policy and technology as opposed to ideas imposed from the outside.

Here are five opportunities for agricultural cooperation among African countries that could be very impactful if exploited:

  • Knowledge sharing among nations that face or have faced common challenges
  • Generation and dissemination of agriculture technologies
  • Establishment of appropriate institutions and policy environment at regional levels.
  • Intra-African Agricultural Trade
  • Establishment of trade support services including knowledge exchange systems market information systems.

Do you have ideas for agricultural cooperation among African countries, please comment below!

CAADP and Agricultural Cooperation

The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) is an Africa-owned and Africa-led initiative to improve and promote agriculture across Africa. One of the aims of this initiative, which was established as part of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), is to bring together key stakeholders at the continental, regional and national levels. This will enable better coordination, sharing of knowledge, success and failures and promote joint efforts to achieve the CAADP goals. The program intends to have dynamic agricultural markets with and between countries and regions of Africa by 2015.

The 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week

One of the four subthemes of the upcoming Africa Agriculture Science Week which will take place between 15th and 20th is moving beyond competition to collaboration. The evolution of CAADP within Africa’s dynamic environment and FAO’s activities in Africa with relation to partnership and collaboration will be discussed.

Blogpost by Grace Wanene, one of our AASW6 social reporters.

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