African leaders in landmark declaration to boost agriculture

Sirte- Libya (PANA) -- African leaders resolved to increase their investments in agriculture in an effort to move the continent from external food dependence, wh i ch has resulted in an increase in the cost of food imports coming to Africa, Sou t h African President Jacob Zuma said here Friday.
“This summit passed a number of issues on the continental decision to invest in agriculture.
There was a two thirds agreement that we should focus our attention to realizing Africa’s food independence,” Zuma said.
He said the leaders felt that Africa must strive to end its external dependence on food imports.
“We have adopted a continental position on this,” Zuma told reporters.
African Heads of States were in Sirte, Libya, from 1-3 July for the 13th session of the summit to discuss agricultural investments as a key source of enhancing e conomic growth in the continent.
The meeting was held under the Chairmanship of the Libyan Leader, Mouammar Kadha fi.
Holding under the theme: “Investing in Agriculture for Economic Growth and Food Security”, the Summit focused on agriculture and food security, climate change, p eace and security in Africa.
Kadhafi asked the African leaders to accelerate the integration process in the c ontinent to enable it talk with one voice in international and continental fora.
He also urged them to adopt common positions on crucial issues that have impact on the development of the continent.
Earlier, the Libyan Leader congratulated Zuma, Professor John Evans Atta Mills o f Ghana, as well as the acting President of Gabon, Rose Francine Rogombe, on the i r election.
A minute's silence was observed during the opening ceremony of the summit, in me mory of late President El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba of Gabon.
AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping said the meeting was held against the backdr op of the global economic recession and urged African states to work to overcome the challenges facing the continent, which he said was key to improving the livi n g standards of Africa’s citizens.
Ping said the choice of theme of the 13th AU Summit expressed the determination of AU to find concrete solutions to the expectation of Africans in the agricultu r e sector.
Speaking on behalf of Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General, Asha-Rose Migiro, t he UN Deputy Secretary-General, said African leaders should see the meeting as a n opportunity to mobilize action to protect the poorest and most vulnerable, give n that more than half of all Africans currently live in extreme poverty.
Migiro said agriculture had always been the cornerstone of development in every region, not just in Africa.
Agricultural investment, she said, creates jobs, sustainable economic growth, as well as increase food and nutritional security.
“Empowering women smallholder farmers should be part of a broader commitment to ensure that women play leadership roles across our economic, political and socia l development fields,” she emphasized.
Migiro further explained that tackling climate change must be a top priority as this would enhance efforts to support agriculture and reduce hunger.
She expressed the hope that African leaders would adopt a common African positio n on climate change during the Copenhagen summit scheduled to take place in Dece m ber.

03 july 2009 17:42:00

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