28 June 2014

Africa: Investment in Agriculture Crucial for Africa

Malabo — Mozambican Prime Minister Alberto Vaquina on Friday said that investment in agriculture, and consequently in a good diet, is a guarantee that the population will be able to face the challenges of development.

Speaking to the Mozambican journalists covering the African Union heads of state summit in the Equatorial Guinea capital of Malabo, he said that the main discussions at the summit centred on what should be done to ensure that agriculture solves the problems deriving from poverty.

“It was very clear that a well-fed population is better able to face the challenges of life, and obtains a much greater yield from its activities”, he said.

The summit thus reaffirmed the importance of agriculture in generating income, creating jobs, particularly for young people and women, and influencing the health of the population, particularly of children.

The summit also discussed peace and security in Africa, specifically the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in South Sudan, the terrorism unleashed by Al-Shabab in Somalia and Boko Haram in Nigeria, and the post-electoral situation in Guinea-Bissau.

Vaquina said the summit stressed the need for AU members to repel terrorism, so that terrorist activities do not endanger the social, economic and political life of the continent.

The Mozambican delegation, he added, had intervened in the debates to argue that prevention is better than cure. Mozambique called for timely measures to prevent the outbreak of conflicts.

“We need to deal with this situation by prevention”, Vaquina said. “That is, we need to know what the causes are. We should also strengthen the mechanisms whereby society participates in good governance. Opportunities must be given to citizens to pronounce on what is being done by their country's leadership”.

The AU is also determined to set up its own Standby Force, formed exclusively of Africans. “This is a permanent force which will be easily set in motion, in response to our commands”, said Vaquina.

The summit had made an urgent appeal for AU members to contribute in whatever way necessary, including financially, for the establishment of this force.

“Peace keeping has costs, and all African countries must contribute with material and financial resources”, said Vaquina. “Africa needs a robust force, one that can intervene in emergency situations, and situations that threaten the stability of our continent”.

The AU's vision of Africa is that before 2020 the guns should fall silent across the continent - which will require great political will and understanding between nations and their peoples.

“We have to do away with the idea that Africa is a continent of suffering, war and hunger”, stressed Vaquina. “We have the right to look forward with hope. The time has come for us to leave a legacy, like the previous generations who fought for our independence. The dream of an Africa without war is possible, if we are all committed to this”.

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