The African Union (AU) has set out plans to construct industrial parks that will improve the manufacturing of agricultural products as well as the supply chain.
The AU Commission (AUC) made this known during a forum it organized with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Fund (FAO) recently where it launched the framework to boost intra-African trade in agricultural products and services.
AU noted that Africa’s demand for food exceeds the domestic supply by 20 percent and urged the continent to take advantage of the fast-growing intra-African market opportunities
It noted that the agriculture sector in Africa needs a structural transformation that implies a shift from production systems focused on the subsistence market into others that guarantee benefits for the most vulnerable segments of the population and the establishment of a linkage between farmers and the supply chains of regional and global value.
The AU further stated that it was also supporting the implementation of the African Common Agricultural Parks (CAAPs), the cross-border initiative focused on agro-processing through small-scale factories.
On his part, the AU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Josefa Sacko, during a virtual webinar on improving the agricultural trade in Africa, said that the AUC was aggressively facilitating supply and improvement in basic infrastructure to support export processing in Africa.
According to her, the average import account in the African continent was over US$80 billion, growing about 6 percent every year.
“We are motivated by the knowledge that the manufacturing is responsible for a lower share of Africa’s exports and a key driver of intra-African trade,” she added.
Sacko also pointed that agriculture was the dominant sector of the African economy, in terms of its contribution to GDP growth, employment and trade, with African Heads of State pledging to promote intra-African trade in agricultural products and services, markets and local, regional and international trade opportunities
However, she said that market access remained a key challenge, for both intra- and extra-African trade with the African Union Commission (AUC) providing support on all fronts.
The AUC, she noted, has given support in terms of capacity building of related bodies and chambers of the domestic private sector to appropriately respond to the opportunities offered in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreements.