The Food Trade Coalition for Africa has organised its first meeting to coordinate food trade investments and policy interventions across the continent.
Co-Chair of the Coalition, Ziad Hamoui in a hybrid meeting which seeks to leverage on diverse views, experiences and knowledge indicated that the meeting would serve as a platform to monitor and evaluate past records of food trade in order to outline the work plan for the rest of the year, while drawing feedback for better achievements.
He noted that with the combined strengths of key stakeholders, the Coalition would build a stronger consensus on food trade policy, and increase policy coherence and predictability.
“Throughout the COVID 19 pandemic, movement of trade hasn’t stopped but movement of people did. Therefore, the pandemic has taught us to start relying on our own local production. Thus, we are hoping to use this coalition as a platform to discuss issues of trade,” he indicated.
In a speech read on behalf of the Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyeremanten, he congratulated the coalition, Alliance for Free Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and other stakeholders for their relentless efforts to support the growth of Africa’s agriculture through the building of the agricultural sector and also linking them to various regional and international markets.
The minister urged African countries to embark on greater and more diversified agriculture trade at regional and global levels to help boost productivity at all stages along the value chain in order to help transform African agriculture and stimulate growth.
“Increasing intra-African agricultural trade also has the potential to improve food security by moving surplus food to deficit areas and contribute to stabilizing local and regional food markets by making them less vulnerable to shocks,” he explained.
He urged all stakeholders to target education and training of the youth with a focus on mentorship so as to enrich smallholder’s practices and knowledge, entrepreneurship and make agriculture more attractive to them.
The Minister indicated that the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would help provide enormous opportunities for the export and import trading of goods, and also empower businesses of all scales be it large, medium, small or micro enterprises.
However, he mentioned that some main barriers to diversification included non-tariffs measures, sanitary and phytosanitary regulations; technical regulations and specific rules of origin.
“Yet, these issues have been addressed under some of the annexes to the AFCFTA protocol on trade in goods,” Mr Kyeremanten announced.
He added that the barriers would soon be removed at the continental level in order to strengthen the case for expanding the share of locally processed products in regional trade.
The Minister indicated that Ghanaian export will be boosted, while investment and innovation would also be stimulated to foster structural transformation and improve food security in the continent.
“AfCFTA will enhance economic growth and export diversification and above all provide the fresh impetus and dynamisms to economic integration of Ghana into the African market,” he stressed.
He noted they even though African agri-food trade is bedevilled with several challenges which included productive capacity, noncompliance with standards and unstructured markets, the Food for Trade Coalition for Africa policy dialogue will help address some of these challenges in agriculture.
“Effective actions are needed to promote gender targeted interventions such as fulfilment of human rights for gender equality and women’s empowerment to facilitate their support market linked to local, national and regional food system.
Women compromise an average of 43% of the agricultural labour force in developing countries,” the Minister added.
Mr Kyeremanten called on various stakeholders to support farmers and other small-scale actors to ensure that they benefitted from increased trade opportunities.
The members of the Food Trade Coalition for Africa include representatives within African and the international community; regional economic communities, private organizations, research institutions, development agencies, academia and think-tanks.