The 12TH Continental Steering Committee (CSC) meeting of the African Union led Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative (EOA-I) was held on 11th and 12th November 2019 at the Mensvick Grand Hotel in Accra, Ghana. The CSC, chaired by the Head of Agriculture and Food Security Division at the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture (DREA) of the African Union Commission, is the apex governance body of the AU EOA-initiative which is mandated to implement the AU Heads of States and governments Decision on Organic Agriculture in Africa, endorsed in 2011. The CSC is supported by a Continental Secretariat hosted by Biovision Africa Trust (BvAT) in Nairobi.
In his opening speech on behalf of the Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union Commission, Her Excellency, Amb. Josefa Correia Sacko and on his own behalf, Dr. Nouala underscored the need to align EOA implementation to the Agenda 2063, SDGs and singled out the need to develop and have EOA indicators integrated within the national CAADP PP biennial review process. This would enable and make it easier to track and review the performance of the implementation and mainstreaming of EOA into national policies, strategies and programmes. The Chairperson also informed the CSC that the just concluded Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment had been updated on the progress of the EOA-Initiative implementation and had endorsed the Continental Secretariat as official support agency of the AUC in supporting the implementation and reporting on the Executive Council of the African Union (AU) Decision on Organic Farming and BvAT as its host and that official communication to BvAT will be made soon.
Dr. Nouala also noted that the AU commissioned study on the legal, policy and institutional development of EOA in Southern, Northern, Central and Western Africa had been concluded and would provide the framework on which to analyze enablers and policy gaps influencing the mainstreaming of EOA in Africa. A similar study had been commissioned in Eastern Africa by Biovision Africa Trust with the support of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC).
The CSC was briefed on the support the European Union (EU) is giving to the West African EOA cluster through ECOWAS who are also members of the CSC. However, he expressed his disappointment that the East African Community (EAC) was yet to be part of the CSC as envisaged in the structure to support and mainstream the EOA Initiative in the region. He promised to put efforts into bringing the East Africa Community on board.
The Chair also commented BvAT for its commendable work in the implementation of the EOA project through the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). He underscored the value of the new grants management system, monitoring and evaluation framework and SharePoint Extranet being rolled out to bring in more prudence in leadership and project management. He applauded the just concluded study commissioned by BvAT on the review of EOA-I institutional structures aimed at strengthening them to better execute their mandate.
Noting the growing global recognition of EOA as a desirable sustainable initiative, Dr. Nouala congratulated Dr. David Amudavi, the Executive Director of BvAT, and Coordinator of the EOA Initiative on his invitation to speak about the EOA-I at the 2019 EU Agricultural Outlook Conference: Sustainability from Farm to Fork, planned for 10th – 11th December 2019, in Brussels-Belgium.
The CSC Chair also applauded GIZ through Ingrid Prem, Project Manager Sustainable Agriculture (NAREN) Division G500 – Rural Development, Agriculture, Food Security of GIZ for their participation in the CSC and for being partners in the EOA-I through the support of the Knowledge Centers for Organic Agriculture (KCOA) in Africa project. IFOAM Organics International based in Bonn Germany and FiBL an organic research institute based in Switzerland are among the organic stakeholder members of the CSC.
The 12th CSC meeting was held back to back with the 5TH West African Organic Conference (5TH WAOC) held at the University of Ghana. The overall theme of the conference was ‘Organic Agriculture – Life for all’. Presentations and discussions were held along the value chains focusing on the three aspects of sustainability: ecological, social and economics. The sub-themes were research, technologies, livestock, market and business, inputs and policies. The 5TH WAOC is a regional platform of the African Organic Network (AfrONet) which is the continental platform of the EOA-I and a member of the CSC.
The 13TH CSC meeting will be held back to back with the 16th Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Partnership Platform (PP) in May 2020.
Author: Alex Mutungi, AU-EOA-I Continental Secretariat Coordinator