Head of UNDP Africa at side event on agriculture and innovation

30 Jul 2014

Goodwill Message by Mr. Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa, UNDP, at the Opening Session of the Side Event on “Leveraging LDC agricultural potential through productive partnerships: new business models in science, innovation and market access” at the margin of the LDC Ministerial Conference, Conference Centre, Laguona Room 1, Cotonou, Benin, 29 July 2014.

I am delighted to be part of this Side Event on “Leveraging LDCs agricultural potential through productive partnerships: new business models in science, innovation and market access”.  UNDP sincerely appreciates the partnership with the Government of New Zealand, the Government of Benin and the International Trade Centre. I see the theme of this event as the currency of development for LDCs.  Without policy and institutional innovations, investment in science and technology and enabling market access to LDCs, breaking the low income tragedy will be an illusion.

Your Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen, this panel provides opportunities for knowledge-sharing and networking.  New Zealand is known for its agricultural transformation and value chains development, with particular focus on pastoralism. Africa, on the other hand, has agriculture as its major area of comparative advantage.  And over the past decade, there has been a huge upsurge in agriculture-based innovations in Africa. The New Rice for Africa (NERICA) in Cotonou, Senegal and Tanzania, Contract farming in Nigeria, E-farming in Kenya and commodity exchanges in Ethiopia are few examples that are transforming farming communities in Africa. This offers solid and beneficial experience sharing, not only in Africa but also in other regions of the world, which could create synergy for agricultural transformation in most LDCs. 

Accelerating foreign markets access is an important development challenge to most LDCs. The implementation of the Agreement on Agriculture with LDCs has not led to significant improvements in market access. LDCs are interested in negotiations that result in tangible improvements in market access for their exports, especially those with a high growth potential. While LDCs welcome the emerging consensus in WTO on duty-free and quota-free market access for their products, these commitments should be predictable, binding and be applicable to all LDCs products. Maximizing LDCs agricultural products market access requires a combination of issues: i) lowering tariffs and reducing or abolishing export subsidies; ii) reducing tariff escalation; and iii) encouraging the flow of foreign direct investment in LDCs to improve technology and knowledge transfer in agricultural sector.

New Zealand, as one of the genuine friends of LDCs, could assist in leveraging this challenge by advocating for the interest of LDCs in agriculture.  New Zealand is quite advanced in agriculture-based technology and innovations, especially in animal husbandry. Its partnership with LDCs will unleash the potential for technology acquisition and transfer for agricultural development.  I therefore enjoin you to take maximum advantage of this event to strengthen networks and partnership for agricultural productivity enhancement, livelihood advancement and export market development.

This event provides a good opportunity for development exchange in agricultural transformation. Bringing experts from New Zealand, Samoa, Vanuatu and several African countries from public and private sectors, cooperative societies and scientists is quite enriching. This is an important strategy UNDP uses to facilitate capacity development across developing world. 

Some food for thoughts that could guide discussions and help maximize the benefits of having variety of experts includes:

•    How can we leverage the power of science, technology and innovations in raising agricultural productivity?
•    How can LDCs harness public-private partnerships, especially through networks such as Chambers of Commerce, to deepen enabling environment for agriculture transformation and development?
•    How can regional institutions be used to promote high-value agro-products export and quality assurance?
•    What are the New Zealand and African agro-models that could accelerate agricultural transformation and economic diversification in most LDCs?
•    How can cooperatives serve as agent of transformation in a way that promotes inclusive business models for improved livelihoods and wealth creation?

Your Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to enjoin you that this event should not end here. It should be the beginning of an enduring network and partnership for transforming agriculture, developing agro business models and expanding LDCs export and market access.

In conclusion, I thank the Government of New Zealand, Government of Benin and International Trade Centre for partnering with UNDP to organize this event. I wish you all enriching discussion.

Thank you.