ONE leaps into the AU Year of Agriculture, starting in Benin.

ONE leaps into the AU Year of Agriculture, starting in Benin.

Last week, ONE jointly organised a two-day multilateral forum on agricultural policy with the Beninese platform of civil society (PASCiB) in Cotonou.

It is not the first time that ONE and Benin have collaborated. In 2012, I had the honour to meet with Dr. Thomas Yayi Boni, then chairman of the African Union, to advocate for agriculture to be put on the agenda of the AU. He declared 2014 the “AU Year of Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition.

For the continent, 2014 is an opportunity to launch initiatives to develop the sector and promote food security. For Benin, 2014 is a singular opportunity to harness the country’s potential to inject new impetus into its agricultural development programs.

Flanked by Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east, Burkina Faso and Niger to the north, Benin is a small country with a population of 11 million and huge unexploited agriculture potential. Only 17% of its land is farmed. Besides, it has followed NEPAD/ECOWAS guidance in agreeing on a strategic plan and an investment plans to boost its agriculture sector but the implementation didn’t follow.

Benin has both potential and willingness to progress but the actors were not able to agree on what to start with. Together with PASCiB, ONE has organised this forum to gather all actors – the minister of agriculture and government representatives, farmers, agro-industry, civil society organisations, and development partners – and agree on a one-year action plan to get out of the stagnation.

ONE is very proud to say that an agreement has been achieved and that all actors have now clear roles and responsibilities framed by a strict timeline so that 2014 will be a boost to Beninese agriculture development.

At ONE, we hope that consensus in Benin will be emulated other countries and Dr. Yayi Boni’s engagement will pull other leaders to commit. 2014 is a  time for  our leaders  to invest in small holder farmers, create jobs and transform millions of lives.

Look out for the launch of our exciting pan-African campaign on agriculture, coming on 29 January 2014.

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