An important milestone in sustainable agriculture for Africa was reached in a little-publicized decision made on organic farming by the African Union’s Executive Council in January 2011.
The decision requests the African Union (AU) Commission and its New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency to initiate and provide guidance for an AU-led coalition of international partners to establish an African organic farming platform based on available best practices; and to provide guidance in support of the development of sustainable organic farming systems and improve seed quality
In a speech given by Her Excellency Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, to the Conference of African Ministers of Agriculture held in October 2010, which highlighted the potentials of ecological agriculture, she stressed that ecological agriculture generates both economic value and sustainable development: “We believe that promoting it in all of our countries would enable Africa to exploit this niche.”
The African Union had in 2008, co-organized a conference on ecological agriculture in Addis Ababa, together with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Ethiopia, and in collaboration with the Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD), Ethiopia and the Third World Network (TWN). That conference had concluded that ecological agriculture can provide food security and improve rural livelihoods for African farmers, as well as mitigate and help farmers adapt to climate change. At the time, Her Excellency had remarked that “Support and greater investment in smallholder farmers should be the path to end poverty in Africa”. It is hoped that the recent AU decision will herald the start of a concerted effort to that end.