Agriculture is by far the single most important economic activity in Africa. It provides employment for about two-thirds of the continent’s working population and for each country contributes an average of 30 to 60 percent of gross domestic product and about 30 percent of the value of exports.
The recent health crisis, COVID-19 has revealed the resilient capacities of the sector.
Faced with the closing of borders, the drop of the purchasing power in urban areas, the major disruptions in the international market of raw materials and the availability of agricultural labor generally unaffected both by the virus and the traffic restrictions, the high demand for food products in cities has been a powerful incentive to the increase and the flow of local productions.
Under these conditions, more than ever, agriculture has proven to be one of the main levers of development on the continent.
In this respect, a paradigm shift appears indispensable. Thus, the modernization of the sector, particularly through agro-ecology, digital agriculture, and social business, has once again become a priority.
To meet these multidimensional challenges which are economic, social, environmental and touches on security and democratic issues, more than a hundred European and African actors from all parts of the agricultural value chain, launched on the side-lines of the One Planet Summit 2021 in Paris, International Agroecological Movement for Africa (IAM Africa).
Focus of IAM Africa Initiative
The initiative aims to resize and strengthen agricultural cooperation between Europe and Africa while ensuring the protection of biodiversity, a global common good.
“The objective of the signatories, through their commitment to deploying this approach in most Africa, is to participate in the promotion of a strategy combining social, environmental and economic development in the service of prosperity but also the preservation of biodiversity and more generally the stability of the continent,” said Karim Ait Talb, co-founder of the initiative and Deputy Managing Director of the Advens/Géocoton Group.
The coalition of private and public actors have also committed to the development of sustainable agricultural sectors particularly the agro-pastoral sectors in Africa, especially in the Sahel.
According to IAM Africa, the signatory partners have further committed themselves to participate in the achievement of the 2030 objectives of “the Great Green Wall”.
“The objective of the signatories, through their commitment to deploying this approach in most Africa, is to participate in the promotion of a strategy combining social, environmental and economic development in the service of prosperity but also the preservation of biodiversity.”
Karim Ait Talb – co-founder of IAM Africa and Deputy Managing Director of the Advens/Géocoton Group
The Great Great Wall which is Africa’s flagship initiative to combat the increasing desertification, has received extra support from the partnership between the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to boost climate finance.
IFAD and other GCF accredited entities will submit projects for funding consideration by the GCF’s Board, under this new Great Green Wall Umbrella Programme (GGW Up).
IFAD will lead the set up of the programme and ensure its coordination with other partners.
Project activities will aim to restore ecosystems and tackle the interlinked issues of climate change, job creation, poverty alleviation, food security and peace-building.
Boosting sustainable development and preserve biodiversity in Sahel region
The Sahelian strip is identified as one of the global “hotspots” of climate change. In this region, it is essential to provide answers to the tensions on natural resources to meet the objectives of sustainable development and preserve biodiversity.
The structuring of agro-livestock value chains that encourage the deployment of agro-ecological practices and the creation of decent and sustainable jobs will be an important response to the adaptation of the region’s populations and to the mitigation of the effects of climate change, particularly in terms of migration flows and security challenges.
“IAM Africa is a new scheme where French, African and international companies who commit and are ready to invest in the agro-ecological sectors of the future,” said Wilfrid Lauriano Do Rego, partner of the initiative and Coordinator of the Council for Africa (CPA).
Since co-development is at the heart of the ethics shared by all the signatories, a significant part of these activities will be the responsibility of local actors, which is promoting technology transfers and the appropriation of the know-how necessary to the sustainable implementation of the agricultural and livestock production sectors envisaged by IAM Africa.
“I invite all companies who share these values to sign the charter available on the CPA website,” concluded Wilfrid.
Further support to the Great Wall Initiative
African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina has been announced as a champion of Africa’s Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative.
In the role of champion, Adesina will lead the mobilisation of political and economic support for the initiative.
To this end he announced that the Bank would mobilize up to US$6.5 billion over the next 5 years for the initiative, joining multilateral development institutions, governments and development partners that have pledged over US$14 billion.
The World Bank, for instance, pledged over US$5 billion in funding to advance land restoration and degradation issues and to address challenges around Lake Chad.
The Great Green Wall’s plan is to plant an 8,000 km long and 15 km wide mosaic of trees, grasslands, vegetation and plants across the Sahara and Sahel that can restore the degraded lands and help the region’s inhabitants produce adequate food, create jobs and promote peace in the region.
“The Great Green Wall is a wall worth building. A wall that brings people together, not one that pulls them apart. A wall that insulates, not one that isolates. A wall that protects our collective existence. A wall for the environment—a wall for the planet,” Adesina said.
A lack of finance has been the project’s major constraint to realising its goal of creating 10 million jobs, sequestering 250 million tonnes of carbon and restoring 100 million hectares of degraded land in the 11 countries of the Sahel-Sahara region.