At the opening of the African Union (AU) heads of state assembly, in
Sirte, Libya, this July 1st, the Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula
da Silva, proposed that a a conference of African ministers of
Agriculture be promoted in Brazil to discuss the sector's development
in the continent.
"I would like to propose, with regard to that matter (of the assembly), a meeting of ministers of Agriculture from all over Africa, in Brazil, to increase the possibilities of partnerships, in order to carry out, along with its fellow Africans, an agricultural revolution similar to the one that Brazil has adopted," said Lula. The theme of the summit in Sirte is "Investing in Agriculture for Economic Growth and Food Security."
Alongside the Libyan leader Muammar Gadafi, the Qatari emir, Ahmad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the secretary general of the League of Arab States, Amr Mussa, and the chairman of the AU Commission, Jean Ping, Lula stated that the Brazilian government reiterates its commitment "to help Africa promote its own green revolution."
According to him, it was with that objective in mind that an office was established in Ghana by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), an organization that "has made Brazil into a world power in agriculture."
The president underscored that in order for such a "revolution" to take place, investment must be made in family farming and generation of jobs and income in rural areas. "The Brazilian experience proves that productivity in small-scale agriculture and sustainability in food production are crucial to eradicate hunger. Investment in agriculture that will lead to job generation is the best means of ensuring a dignified living to our citizens," he claimed.
In that respect, during a press conference held prior to the start of the summit, the commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the AU, Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, said that the US$ 33 billion spent on food imports by African nations must be invested in local agriculture.
According to her, governments in the continent should invest further in the sector because of its multiplier effects, which include the development of the food industry. "We have lands, water and other resources, therefore we must invest in agriculture for economic growth and food security," said the commissioner.
Lula added that "another revolution that we can promote together is that of bioenergy." He believes that African countries must become biofuel producers, within their limits and without compromising food production. To the president, that would bring "exponential benefits to African countries and peoples." "For that reason, I have commissioned studies for the implementation, in Africa, of a model farm in association with a pilot plant for ethanol manufacturing," he declared.
Later on, in an interview to the Brazilian press, Lula asserted that Africa may have an extraordinary food and biofuels output, "and perhaps raise the living conditions of its people up to another level."