The Africa-Europe rural transformation action agenda stems from the executive report of Task Force Rural Africa (TFRA), published in March 2019, which set out strategies and recommendations for the transformation of Africa’s rural areas. Based on the recommendations of the report and the findings of a public consultation, the African Union and the European Union endorsed a political declaration and action agenda at the third AU-EU agriculture ministerial conference in June 2019.
The action agenda sets out concrete initiatives across nine action areas, all of which target the sustainable strengthening of Africa’s agri-food sector and rural territories.
AU-EU agri-food platform
- Establish an AU-EU agribusiness platform for dialogue between the EU and African private sectors, through cooperation with EU delegations, national chambers of commerce, European business organisations and national private sector organisations.
- Collaborate with the ongoing OECD-FAO Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains.
Along with the Department for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission, the Commission started the work to set up an agri-food platform in Ghana in June 2020. The main driver will be to catalyse more private responsible investment by providing a platform for EU and Ghanaian agribusinesses to collaborate, and a structured dialogue with local/regional government to discuss relevant issues relating to the legal framework, policy, access to credit, and government intervention.
Research and innovation partnership
- Launch research and innovation (R&I) actions focused on climate and environment under the EU’s Development-Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture (De SIRA) initiative.
- Support applied research on food environments and sustainable food systems by expanding the number of countries and private enterprises involved in the R&I partnership on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture (FNSSA).
- Encourage professional development and mobility opportunities through the One Planet Summit fellowship programme, the EU’s Marie-Sklodowska-Curie actions, ERASMUS+ and Horizon 2020 projects.
- Strengthened support for the Pan-African network for economic analysis of policies (PANAP).
PANAP brings together stakeholders, researchers, data analysts and policymakers from national and multilateral institutions to explore the role of science in supporting policy decision making in Africa’s farming and food sectors. The network was launched in November 2019. Collaboration has already begun with five countries making use of the JRC’s modelling instruments. Activities ahead will be prioritised to put particular emphasis on the setting up of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Ongoing action: Horizon Europe boosts EU-Africa cooperation in research and innovation
As a strategic partner, the EU seeks to enhance cooperation with Africa to find locally adapted solutions to challenges that are global in nature, but which often hit Africa hardest. The Horizon Europe work programme 2021-22 includes around 40 topics with a budget of around €350 million under Calls for Proposals that are particularly relevant for cooperation with Africa.
Ongoing action: The AU-EU High Level Policy Dialogue (HLPD) on Science, Technology and Innovation formulates long-term research and innovation policy priorities to strengthen Africa-Europe cooperation. The new EU-Africa cooperation in research and innovation web page brings together all research and innovation partnerships and opportunities for Africa.
Digital solutions for agribusinesses
Support the creation of an international digital council for food and agriculture, as proposed at the global forum for food and agriculture (GFFA) in Berlin, 2019. The council would provide guidance to countries on digitisation issues and promote the exchange of ideas and experience.
Implementation of the continental strategy for geographical indications in Africa
Enhance cooperation on the AU’s continental strategy for geographical indications (GIs) through backing the African GI training programme and web platform, and supporting GI pilot projects.
The African Union’s continental strategy for geographical indications aims to develop rural areas in Africa and preserve heritage and tradition, while helping farmers and producers to gain added-value for their quality. In 2019, a GI digital hub has been established and a regional GI training has been organised in Yaoundé. In addition, as part of its support for the set up of the African Continental Free Trade Area, the European Commission launched an EUR 8 million initiative to support the development of an Intellectual Property Rights framework in Africa in December 2019.
GIs are one of the focus areas of this programme, which will support priority actions like:
- GI pilot projects
- an improved legal framework on GIs
- communication activities
Examples of such actions include technical assistance to the GI registration Cabrito de Tete in Mozambique and Poivre de Penja in Cameroun, and co-organisation of capacity building workshop on GIs in Nigeria on 22 April 2021. In addition, there has recently been good progress in the drafting of an African GIs handbook and the identification of potential GIs from Africa to be further supported under the project.
Strengthening food safety governance
- Implement the protocol on trade and goods: sanitary and phytosanitary measures, outlined in annex 7 of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
- Establish appropriate food safety governance structures in African countries.
Strengthening African farmers’ organisations
As part of the partnership, a multiannual EU cooperation programme with African farmers’ organisations will be launched. The programme will focus on improving the governance of organisations, supporting farmers’ integration into value chains and strengthening their influence on policies. Smallholder farmers will be given particular attention in the programme. In March 2021, the action Farmers' Organizations for Africa, Caribbean and Pacific was launched in this context with the aim of helping small farmers to overcome constraints and fully benefit from profitable economic activities.
African-European farmers’ exchange programme
An exchange programme involving African and European farmers to enhance skills and expand knowledge through interactions, seminars, and training. Among other aims, the programme will aim to help small-scale farmers and low-skilled rural youth integrate into sustainable agriculture value chains and meet the standards required for national and international markets.
Ongoing action: Mobility scheme between African and European VET systems
The AU and EU are cooperating on the OVERSTEP project, a joint alliance to develop a mobility scheme and share best practices for vocational education and training (VET) systems in Africa. The project focuses on the areas of food processing, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and veterinary science, as well as tourism and hotel services. Through the OVERSTEP project, the AU and EU aim to improve the professional development, skills, and employability of teachers and managers.
Working in cooperation with African farmers’ organisations, this capacity-building programme aims to increase income and improve livelihoods, food and nutrition security, and safety across the continent through greater integration of family farms in the value chain. The inception phase is underway with grants having been provided to five organisations to support the planning and preparation of the programme.
Local action for rural development in Africa
Support local action programmes based on the principles of the EU’s LEADER strategy. Local communities will be involved in the design and implementation of strategies to meet their local needs, with key focus areas including sustainable land management, land restoration, and climate-smart agriculture and forestry.
Ongoing action: increase the knowledge of local stakeholders on LEADER
On 25 May 2021, the Commission organised the local action for rural development in Africa webinar in order to present a participative territorial approach for local development in rural Africa to colleagues in the EU's African delegations. Inspired by the European LEADER, it has been supported by the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy for 30 years. This working method is bottom-up, multi-level, multi-sectoral (beyond agriculture) and works thanks to the learning and networking of stakeholders. It has the potential to strengthen local governance, foster multi-level policy dialogue, enhance empowerment of civil society and and alleviate poverty.
Improving environmental sustainability, climate resilience, and agrobiodiversity in the agricultural sector
- Implement bilateral pilot projects that demonstrate and promote climate-adapted cultivation methods and drought-tolerant crop varieties.
- Support measures for conservation of biodiversity and sound management of agricultural chemicals and waste.