Stefano Manservisi: 'Agriculture in ACP countries, a top priority for the EU'
Published on 19 January 2017, a feature article in 'Spore', published by the Technical Cente for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), comprises an interview with Stefano Manservisi, the Director-General for International Cooperation and Development at the European Commission (EC). In this article, he shares his views on the agricultural and food security challenges for the EU and its African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) country partners: including sustainable and climate-smart agricultural production and fisheries; and rural youth. In this article, he also outlines the potetential role of CTA in cooperation with the EU.
Stefano Manservisi describes how the EU is currently outlining the strategy for its development policy, aiming to adopt it as the new European Consensus on Development, together with the European Parliament and the Council. Main priorities include eradicating poverty, addressing inequalities, and providing jobs and opportunities by working towards peace and security; manageable mobility and migration; growth and jobs; renewable energy and climate; and greater equality. He considers that agriculture, rural development, and food security have long been priorities in EU efforts – especially since the food crisis in 2007/2008. Given the importance of keeping agriculture at the top of the agenda – and its strong connection with other key challenges, for example security and migration –rural development and food security will continue to figure prominently in EU engagement with partner countries. Against this background, more than 60 countries have chosen sustainable agriculture and food security as one of the main sectors for EU assistance over the 2014-2020 period, leading to cooperation programmes worth around €9 billion.
Sustainable and climate-smart agricultural production and fisheries are key initiatives and have the potential to stimulate broad-based income growth. Agricultural growth often goes hand-in-hand with labour intensive operations, providing jobs and economic opportunities for rural and urban households, as well as agribusinesses. By providing economic opportunities in rural areas, agriculture can also reduce rural-urban mobility and mitigate urbanisation. EU support is not limited to increased agricultural production; it also covers areas such as agricultural processing, infrastructure, and market development in order to achieve results and have a real impact on growth.
Rural youth is a priority for the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. Young people often do not have access to basic services and quality education. Strategies for sustainable development will be successful only with a strong commitment to strengthen opportunities for young people – supporting entrepreneurship and professional training to promote social cohesion and political participation of youth, to protect youth and prevent radicalisation, especially in remote and poor areas of the region.
On the role of CTA, Stefano Manservisi notes that CTA has extensive expertise in agriculture and rural development in ACP countries and serves as a useful platform to exchange ideas. CTA’s priorities are aligned with EU priorities in agriculture and food security, notably the emphasis placed on nutrition and the development of value chains in support of inclusive agriculture.