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AU SAFGRAD Coordinator, Dr. Ahmed ELMEKASS, is attending the 36th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Executive Council officially opened today, at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa. The meeting is being held under the AU Theme of the Year 2020, “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”.

The initiative of Silencing the Guns is a flagship project of Africa’s Agenda 2063 and aims to achieve a conflict-free Africa, prevent genocide, make peace a reality for all and rid the continent of wars, civil conflicts, gender-based violence, violent conflicts and preventing genocide. The meeting which was attended by Foreign Ministers of AU member states, leadership of the AU Commission and AU organs, the diplomatic corps, representatives of partner organisations and invited guests was highly solemn as the key speakers in line with the Theme, delivered powerful statements to strongly condemn and denounce the devastating effect of war the continent’s socio-economic development, among others.

AU SAFGRAD Coordinator wil take opportunity of this impôrtant gathering to meet and discuss with various partners on issues of interest to the Office mandate.

 Group picture EC











Dr Ahmed ELMEKASS, Coordinator of AU SAFGRAD, presented, in his capacity as Dean, the New Year wishes of the inter-African institutions to the President of Faso.



This Friday morning January 24, the diplomatic and consular corps in Burkina Faso presented to the President of Faso, HE Mr. Roch Marc Christian Kabore, his New Year wishes.


During the solemn ceremony held at the Kosyam Palace, the ambassadors and consular representatives, international and inter-African organizations reiterated their support for Burkina Faso and expressed wishes for a happy new year to the President of Faso and to of the Burkinabè people.


First to take the floor, Dr Ahmed ELMEKASS, Coordinator of the AU SAFGRAD, in his capacity as Dean of the Inter-African Institutions, expressed in his speech the active solidarity of Africa towards the “Country of Upright Men” in these difficult moments marked by terrorist attacks.


The Dean of Inter-African Institutions will be followed by that of international institutions, Mr. David Bulman, Representative of WFP. Finally, the Dean of diplomatic and consular missions, Regina Celia de Oliveira Bittencourt, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Brazil, spoke on behalf of her peer ambassadors before the President of Faso spoke to respond to all.


He notably declared that "During the year 2019, “the country of upright men” was particularly touched in its flesh by this incomprehensible and unjust violence causing enormous loss of life as well as many wounded" before soliciting, in an excellent French, the observation of a minute of silence in memory of the disappeared. He reiterated to the President of Faso, "the active solidarity of Africa, in particular through the Inter-African Organizations".


He went back on certain decisions taken by the African Union during the year 2019, notably The Decision on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which was signed and ratified by Burkina Faso. He also mentioned the Decision to galvanize political commitment towards the elimination of female genital mutilation in Africa where the Heads of State decided to appoint HE Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, President of the Republic of Burkina Faso, as Leader of the AU for the elimination of female genital mutilation. Finally he spoke of the AU decision to appoint six (6) members of the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption, where Burkina Faso was elected to represent the West Africa region.


Finally, coming back to the combined presidential and legislative elections that Burkina Faso is organizing at the end of this year 2020, the Coordinator of the AU SAFGRAD wished a “successful electoral process” for the “Country of Upright Men” before reiterating his best wishes for a happy new year to the President, his family and all the people of Burkina Faso.


In his response to the various speeches, President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, praised the quality of the relations of friendship and cooperation between his country and friendly countries as well as with international and inter-African institutions. He also underlined the resilience of the Burkinabè people who, despite the challenges of terrorism, are fighting for sustainable and inclusive development.




Dr. Ahmed ELMEKASS, AU SAFGRAD Coordinator, presenting his wishes to HE Rock Marc Christian KABORE, President of Burkina Faso



 HE Rock Marc Christian KABORE, President of Burkina Faso, responding to statements of the diplomatic and consular corps in Burkina Faso



Group picture at the end of the ceremony. HE Rock Marc Christian KABORE, President of Burkina Faso with representatives of Interafrican and international organizations in Burkina Faso






















AU SAFGRAD facilitated in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), from 13 to 14 November 2019, a Regional Validation Workshop (for IGAD & UMA) on : Improving competitiveness of Agricultural Commodities through Regional Value Chains development for Boosting Intra-Africa Trade

Group Pic Addis Nov.19 final

Group Picture at the Openning of the workshop

From 13 to 14 of November 2019, AU-SAFGRAD has convened a regional validation workshop for IGAD and UMA to provide actors and stakeholders the opportunity to consider and agree on selection criteria, analyze and select priority commodity value chains, based on agreed criteria, for regional endorsement.

The 2-day validation workshop was held at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This meeting was facilitated by AU-SAFGRAD but ownership and advancement of outcome as a regional commitment rested with the RECs. The aim of the workshop was to validate regional selection criteria and prioritize agricultural commodities value chains for regional ownership and domestication. 

Attended by experts from RECs and their Member States. Various experts from development partners involved in agricultural trade and industrialization in the Continent/region took also part to the validation workshop.

The objectives of the workshop was specifically : (i) Collate information on Member States’ priority value chains selection criteria and commodities prioritized, (ii) Review and agree on selection criteria for prioritizing RVC against the proposed RVC; (iii) Validate the prioritized RVC for regional ownership and domestication and finally (iv) Initiate process to agree on the modalities for constituting regional and Continental commodity committees. 

After two days deliberations, the meeting was concluded with the following outcomes: (i)Information on status and criteria use in the selection of MS prioritized value chain for the region was documented; (ii) criteria for prioritizing RVC agreed and endorsed by IGAD and UMA; (iii) Regional priority commodities documented and (iv) Strategic approach in constituting commodities committees agreed.


AU Guidelines for the Promotion of Pastoralism and the Management of Conflict in Africa validated in Lusaka, Zambia.

The African Union Guidelines for the Promotion of Pastoralism and the Management of Conflict in Africa were discussed and finalized during a three day workshop, from November 5-7, 2019, held at COMESA Headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia.

Pastoralism Lusaka nov.19

 Group Picture at the opening ceremony of workshop on Pastoralism held in Lusaka, Zambia.

Facilitated by AU SAFGRAD and AU Rural Economy Division of the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture in collaboration with COMESA Secretariat, the meeting gathered various experts and practitioners from the five regional farmers associations as well pastoralists networks, Department of Peace and Security and The Women Gender Development Directorate of the African Union Commission, ,Regional Economic Communities (RECs). Key international and financial institutions such as African Development Bank (AfDB) also attended the Workshop.

It is important to recall that Pastoralists’ livestock production is the primary production system in Africa’s drylands. It is the main source of livelihood, food security, and wellbeing in 43 percent of Africa’s landmass. Besides, pastoralism plays an essential role in the national and regional economies of Africa. It supplies millions of animals to both domestic and international markets through secure livestock trade networks that link-local and cross-border markets to neighboring countries and global markets. It is estimated that the arid and semiarid areas of the Greater Horn of Africa (GHA) is home to over 25 million pastoralists of which 72% of which resides with in COMESA region.


Unfortunately, in recent decades, pastoralism is facing ever-increasing challenges in the forms of increasingly variable and unpredictable climate, rising insecurity and violence, increasing risk of animal and zoonotic diseases, and insecure land rights and natural resources management. These changes are taking place in a context of neglect and exclusion. These challenges are eroding the capacity of pastoralists systems in the different regions of the drylands to absorb shocks and adapt to changes.


In addition, owing to a multiplicity of factors including resource scarcity, adverse effects of climate change etc., violent conflicts between pastoralists and farmers have intensified resulting in the loss of lives, destruction of properties, and displacement of people and retardation of socio-economic progress. It is estimated that today those conflicts on the continent take more lives than terrorism.

To address these challenges, the Executive Council of the African Union in January 2011 approved The AU Policy Framework on Pastoralism aiming at securing, protecting and improving the lives, livelihoods, and rights of pastoralists’ communities. This calls for the initiation of the process of developing guidelines with the general objective to contribute to releasing the potential of pastoralists’ ecosystems to boost economic prosperity and enhance peace and security in Africa. Specific objectives include to avail to AU Member States guidelines and instrument to secure pastoralists activities, enhance the rights of pastoralists and help to prevent and resolve conflicts associated with pastoralists’ activities. 


Talking at the opening ceremony on the behalf of HE Josefa Sacko, Commissioner of Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture (DREA), Dr Janet Edeme, REA Head Division, mentioned that the workshop has preceded another important workshop that took place over the last two days reviewing the African Union Draft Land Governance Strategy. These two workshops have been designed back to back to look at the correlation between pastoralism and land- two critical sectors which the African Union Commission places significant importance on. “These two workshops are being organized within the broader context of preparations for next year’s theme of the African Union on silencing the Guns in Africa and the overall vision of a Peaceful, Prosperous and Integrated Africa”, She said before concluding that “Conducting this research is very important as it will contribute to the implementation of the African Union Agenda 2063 and of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well.” 

In his opening remarks, Dr Ahmed ELMEKASS, AU SAFGRAD Coordinator, explained that “AU-DREA has developed a Policy Framework on Pastoralism; and some of the RECs equally have similar work. In addition, in 2018 AU-SAFGRAD as lead institution in collaboration with the Division of Rural Economy and the Department of Peace and Security of the African Union has organized a workshop titled “Transhumance conflict in Africa towards a formidable continental conflict transformation mechanism”. The current study is one of the main outcomes of this workshop, he concluded. 


On behalf of the COMESA Secretariat, Ambassador Dr Kipyego Cheluget, Assistant Secretary General of COMESA Secretariat stated during his address at the opening that the current study is well suited to COMESA mandate and therefore will require great attention”. Delivering the opening statement, on the behalf of the Hosting country, Dr Young Ndoba Vibetti, from Zambia Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, confirmed that “the Republic of Zambia stands ready to work in partnership with AUC, RECs including COMESA and other Member States to fully implement the Guidelines”.


The first version of the Guidelines has been developed using an approach aiming to respond to the desire to stimulate inclusive debate and to build a consensus on the document. With this successful meeting, the validated version of the document would be submitted through appropriate AU Policy organs for consideration and adoption.






Media contacts: Mr Youssoupha MBENGUE, Senior Communications Officer, AU SAFGRAD. Email: Cette adresse e-mail est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser. .




Validation workshop for the Guidelines/Instrument for the Promotion of Pastoralism and the Management of Conflict in Africa: November 5-7, 2019, Lusaka, Zambia

The validation workshop is taking place in Lusaka, Zambia from November 5-7, 2019 in collaboration with COMESA secretariat.

The first version of the Guideline was developed by a consultant using an approach which response to the desire to stimulate inclusive debate and to build a consensus on the pastoralist guideline. The draft Continental Pastoralist guideline is submitted for validation by committee members drawn from the regional Economic Communities (RECS), experts, Pastoralist Communities, Farmers organizations and independent experts taking into consideration these three axes.

 Participatory and inclusive sharing of the preliminary draft pastoralist guideline with all representatives of the actors concerned;

 Collect proposals and reformulations for finalization of the initial draft document;

 Approving and validating the preliminary draft pastoral guideline documents.

At the end of this three-day meeting, a second version will be drafted and introduced in the official approval circuit of the African Union


Inauguration of a Statue in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, to symbolize African Union’s Endeavor to ‘’Retire the Hoe to the Museum’’ towards mechanization of agriculture

1. Introduction and Background

African agriculture remains poorly capitalized, with extremely low levels of mechanization contributing to agricultural productivity far below the level achieved in other parts of the developing world. Currently, over 60% of farm power is provided by human muscles, mostly from women, the elderly and children; only about 25% of farm power is provided by drudge animals and less than 15% of mechanization services are provided by engine power (AU and FAO, 2018). Agricultural mechanization is thus an indispensable pillar for attaining the zero Hunger Vision by 2025, as stated in the Malabo Declaration of 2014,

Aspiration 1 of the AU’s Agenda 2063, and Goal 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals. Doubling agricultural productivity and eliminating hunger and malnutrition in Africa by 2025 can only be possible if mechanization is accorded the utmost importance. This includes enhancing access to mechanization services, improving access to quality and affordable inputs, such as seed and fertilizer, and delivering efficient water resources and management systems including irrigation.

 Recognizing the role of mechanization, the African Union Commission in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), launched the Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization Framework for Africa, on 5th October 2018 in Rome. The Framework which has ten priority elements that will guide AU Member States when developing their national strategies for sustainable agricultural mechanization and implementing mechanization programmes at country level prescribed some core principles- mechanization must be built along the entire agricultural value chain, private sector driven, environmentally competitive and climate smart, and economically viable and affordable, especially to small-scale farmers who constitute the bulk of African farmers. Mechanization must also target youth and women, specifically to make agriculture more attractive for employment and entrepreneurship.

Agriculture, relative to manufacturing and services, is the most important source of employment for women by a wide margin in sub-Saharan Africa where they play a fundamental role in all the stages of the food cycle. It is estimated that women make up almost 50 percent of the agricultural labour force in sub-Saharan Africa, an increase from about 45 percent in 1980. The averages in Africa range from over 40 percent in Southern Africa to just over 50 percent in Eastern Africa. These sub-regional averages have remained fairly stable since 1980, with the exception of Northern Africa, where the female share appears to have risen from 30 percent to almost 45 percent (FAO 2011)1.   But the agricultural sector is underperforming, in part because women, who represent a crucial resource in agriculture and the rural economy through their roles as farmers, labourers and entrepreneurs, almost everywhere face more severe constraints than men in access to productive resources. They are in many cases deprived of land ownership, access to markets, key assets and inputs, and are frequently excluded from decision making. Efforts by national governments and the international community to achieve their goals for agricultural development, economic growth and food security will be strengthened and accelerated if they build on the contributions that women make and take steps to alleviate these constraints.

The 25th Ordinary Session of the Summit of African Union Heads of State and Government held in South Africa had the theme: “2015 Year of Women Economic Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”. At the summit, the then AU Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma launched a campaign to “confine the handheld hoe to the museum”. As a symbolic gesture, the Chairperson handed over a power tiller to each African Head of State and Government to emphasize the importance of removing the drudgery from agriculture, and thereby improving labour productivity, especially for women with the hope that mechanization of agriculture in Africa will be achieved within the next 10 years.

In Gender Pre-Summit consultations held on the margins of the 25th Ordinary summit, Women of Africa identified key priorities for the advancement of women empowerment, including the critical role of women in Agriculture. Building on this, an initiative on “Empowering Women in Agriculture”-EWA was launched with the aim to recognize and escalate the role of women in the development of Africa, through mechanization of agriculture and alleviation of the burden on women in rural communities.

As African women leaders galvanize their role and leadership in the transformation of Africa, in line with Agenda 2063, they have initiated a broader movement of women of Africa, the “African Women Leaders Network: - AWLN that has identified Agriculture as a determinant priority in the uplifting of women status in Africa and enhancing their leadership in defining the Africa We Want.

Indeed, Women’s predominance in agricultural tasks, combined with the existence of a gender gap in agricultural productivity and the need to boost Africa’s agricultural output is motivating increased attention to raising female agricultural productivity. Building on the initiative by the former Chairperson of the AUC and the mobilization of women around the theme, the AU Commissioner of Rural Economy and Agriculture together with the First Lady of Burkina Faso, will inaugurate the first Statue in Burkina Faso to symbolize the retiring of a Hand-Held Hoe as part of International Rural women’s day in 2019.  

The statue will be erected and be formally inaugurated on October 15, 2019 in Ouagadougou on the margins of the celebrations of the International Rural Women Day.

Prior to the erection of the statue, a symposium of women farmers and women in rural communities will be organized to kick start a continent wide campaign to” Retire the Hoe to the Museum” and support women in the modernization of agriculture. 

2. Significance of the Statue

The construction of this first monument in Burkina Faso symbolizes the campaign to end the Hand Hoe in Africa in recognition of the difficult conditions of farming in rural areas. This monument is not a mere representation, but a living testimony of the African woman who faces an unequal division of work between man and woman in the rural environment. In addition, it is a testimony of society’s dedication to the implementation of the AU Agenda 2063, especially Aspiration six, “An Africa whose development is people - driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth and caring for children” Putting an end to the use of the hand-held hoe will contribute significantly to attaining the objectives of this Continental Agenda, and for agriculture, the 2014 Malabo Declaration. Rural women can play even a driving role for the progress of our continent. We need to recognize this force so that we can achieve the objectives of the Malabo Declaration, which is to accelerate the transformation of our agriculture by empowering rural women.  

The erection of the statue is on one hand a reflection of social transformations in the contemporary world, bringing to the fore and highlighting models of female emancipation capable of combating stereotypes, giving greater visibility to women and their achievements and hence contributing to their empowerment in

Africa. On the other hand, it will further act as a reminder to awaken the consciousness of the future generations on the history of the African continent, which considers the woman as the nucleus of the family., refining more and more, the knowledge of our colonial past and the lessons to the future.  

Finally, this monument must challenge political decision-makers and the network of rural women in their different roles that they play or should play in society. It is time for African governments to give priority to agricultural mechanization as an area for strategic investment.

3. Objectives of the Event 

  • To launch the campaign to relegate the hand-held hoe to the museum and enhance the role of women in Agriculture transformation on the continent.  
  • To highlight the priority elements for mechanization contained in the Continental Framework on Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization in Africa
  • To create momentum for developing and implementing national sustainable agricultural mechanization strategies in Africa with a view to reducing the drudgery in agriculture especially by women.

 4. Expected Results

  • Inauguration of the Statue of History of the African woman in Agriculture.
  • Workshop of Women farmers to kick start the campaign to “Retire the Hoe to the Museum”
  • Policy Makers sensitized on the working conditions of rural women with a view to influencing policies that empower women.
  • Definition of priority actions to promote agricultural mechanization in Africa to reduce the drudgery in agriculture especially by women.
  • Commitment by African leaders and other stakeholders to promote science and technology to alleviate the burden of rural women in agriculture

5. Participants for the Celebrations

The organizers have identified the President of the Republic of Ghana, as AU Champion for Gender and Development Issues in Africa as Guest of Honor. He will be joined by the former AUC Chairperson who made the call to “Retire the Hoe to the Museum”

The main target groups for this event are women in agriculture, Women academicians, women entrepreneurs, professional women, youth groups, media, Network of Women farmers/women in rural communities, International Women organisations, Universities/ Polytechnics, artisans, innovators.














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