Background to the task force
In September 2018, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker issued a Communication on the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, which included a reinforced commitment to the sustainable development of rural Africa through strengthened cooperation and dialogue with the African Union (AU).
In this context, Task force rural Africa (TFRA) was set up to advise the Commission on how best to contribute to sustainable development and job creation in Africa’s agri-food sector and rural economy.
The eleven members of TFRA hold expertise in agriculture, agri-business and agroindustry (in particular the agri-food sector in Africa), as well as trade, development policy, and migration related issues. The members of TFRA were tasked with:
- providing advice on how to accelerate impact through better coordination with existing initiatives to boost public and private investments in African agriculture, agri-business and agri-industrial development;
- examining ways to share knowledge and know-how gained from EU agriculture and rural development policies in order to develop employment opportunities and generate revenue in rural Africa;
- identifying strategies to promote and prioritise agricultural policy and regulatory reform in African countries (in line with CAADP and the Malabo declaration) and facilitate responsible private investments in African agriculture and agribusiness, to boost intra-African trade as well as exports from African countries;
- identifying strategies to support African youth working in agriculture, agribusiness and agroindustry.
Executive report, 2019
In March 2019, TFRA issued an executive report proposing strategies and policies for the transformation of rural Africa. The proposals set out to harness cooperation between the AU and EU, as well as make firm contributions to the joint Africa-EU strategy, the Agenda 2030 and the United Nation’s sustainable development goals.
In their report, TFRA called for an innovative partnership for the development of Africa’s agri-food sector and rural economy, operating at three levels: people-to-people, business-to-business, and government-to-government.
The report set out four strategic action areas for the transformation of Africa’s agriculture and rural economy, to apply over the medium to long term:
- a territorial approach for job creation and income growth;
- sustainable land and natural resource management and climate action;
- supporting the sustainable transformation of African agriculture;
- development of the African food industry and food markets.
In order to kick-start collaboration on these action areas, TFRA recommended six short-to-medium term initiatives:
support rural governance and an innovative local action programme, based on territorial development
mainstream environmental sustainability and promote climate action
start a knowledge, innovation and networking initiative for transformation of agriculture and rural areas
improve access to private finance and to EU cooperation instruments for small and medium size agriculture and food businesses
scale up sustainable value chain development, regional integration and intra-regional trade
share together European and African expertise for agriculture and rural development
The full executive report of Task force rural Africa, published in March 2019.
In May 2019, a public consultation was launched to collect stakeholders’ views on the report and its recommendations. The outcomes of the consultation were published in December 2019.
Update to report, 2020
In August 2020, the TFRA updated their recommendations to take account of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the change in the EU’s climate policy brought by the European Green Deal.
The resulting report outlines that food and nutrition security has become of such fundamental political, economic and social importance that it must be at the centre of all future policy and planning. Building on this conclusion, the TFRA produced a set of short and long-term recommendations that members believe are relevant to the new world shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the short term, the TFRA recommends that the AU and EU should commit to three high level political priorities:
- Address the urgent needs of the most vulnerable African populations impacted by COVID-19 and, in certain countries and regions, by the plague of locusts.
- Lay the foundations of long term sustainable African food systems, through strengthening the resilience of local food systems and the rural economy.
- Bring climate action to a new level of political priority through committing to an Africa Europe Climate Alliance and agree the early stages of bringing this Alliance into being.
The updated recommendations were addressed at the AU-EU agricultural ministerial summit in June 2021.