ACP-EU Indaba Adopts Windhoek Communiqué

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By Catherine Sasman WINDHOEK The 15-member delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) that met in Windhoek last week said there is an urgent need to invest in greater agricultural yields through development of infrastructure for improved market access, research, technology and support to smallholders to promote their ownership of food security policies. The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries agreed with their European Union counterparts that political stability and security would favour SADC initiatives to improve food self-sufficiency in the region. JPA Director for Programmes and Political Issues, Roger Moore, described the current food price crisis as a “humanitarian tsumani”, urging immediate responses on a global scale to deal with the food security problems. Moore was also of the opinion that Africa needs a “green revolution” to tap the continent’s enormous agricultural potential. Four percent of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) is devoted to the agricultural sector, but with nine percent earmarked for rural development and 26 percent towards the transport sector in the ACP countries. This, said Moore, was “reasonably well-balanced” to offset greater agricultural production. Co-president of the JPA Glenys Kinnock reported that the meeting further agreed that more investment is needed for the construction of dams for water conservation and hydro-electricity generation, as well as the promotion of energy from biomass products. This, the meeting said, should be in tandem with the development of solar and other renewable sources of energy, especially in rural localities, to be produced and maintained locally. Based on a report on the tuna industry in the Seychelles and fish stocks under threat due to over-fishing and climate change, the meeting said it was crucial to find a way to reconcile sustainable fisheries policies and profitability. It said the projected erosion of preferential tariffs threatened the future of the fishing industry. The final adopted communiquÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© said it would be vital for countries like Seychelles to receive additional funding to meet the cost of implementation of the new illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing regulations. “Other SADC countries face similar problems as do ACP countries elsewhere, in the Pacific for example, and perhaps a regional fisheries agreement would be a good idea,” said Kinnock. This recommendation will be followed up by the JPA in its forthcoming plenary and regional meetings. This was the first-ever regional meeting of the ACP-EU JPA organised under Articles of the Cotonou Agreement and the ACP-EU Rules of Procedure. The Economic Partnership Agreements, an issue also highlighted at the meeting, members said, should contribute to the strengthening of regional integration, as well as reinforcing gains made so far, instead of diminishing these.