African farmers get an ear at UN

May 4, 2009 12:00 am

, NEW YORK, May 4 – A high level meeting on sustainable development is expected to begin on Monday at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York to discuss ways of promoting agriculture, rural development and land among others, with a focus on Africa.
The 190 UN member countries will be meeting at the 17th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) to carry out negotiations over the next two weeks.
The Commission’s NGO Coordinator, Jan-Gustan Strandenaes told Capital News in New York that developing agriculture would be the main focus due to the current food crisis.
 “What the governments have decided through the process that has come before this – because this is the last segment of a two year process – is to make agriculture the over riding theme,” he said.
“I think we can expect to have a serious plan on agriculture and food development in the context of sustainable development,” Mr Strandenaes stated.
He however expressed concerns that drought and desertification which is also a major challenge in Africa is not clearly represented in the agenda items.
“What they do on desertification is not really very clear at this moment, there seems to be a disagreement on the issue,” he said.
“I think because drought and desertification only affects certain parts of the world and unfortunately Africa is one of those and so it’s not considered as important. If we had major drought in Europe or North America, it would have seen major focus,” Mr Strandenaes who is also a Policy Advisor added.
The draft negotiating document states that boosting agricultural productivity should be done in ways that are both socially equitable and environmentally sustainable.
With the focus on a Green Revolution for Africa, it is expected to stir the contentious issue of genetically modified foods (GMO’s) .
An Intersessional meeting of the CSD was held in February this year in Windhock, Namibia focusing on African agriculture in the 21st century, “meeting the challenges, making a sustainable Green Revolution.”
The discussions during the meetings focused on how to operationalise a Green Revolution in Africa, integrating African agriculture into global markets and managing Africa’s agricultural transition.
The Windhock meeting came out with a declaration for governments to support sustainable agriculture with an emphasis on the importance of food security. This declaration will be presented as a contribution to the 17th CSD session.


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