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Agriculture figures prominently in new framework for EU-Africa relations

A new strategic partnership between the EU and Africa was launched on 4 May with agriculture one of the main pillars of the new strategy. The agri-food sector is seen as a key area through which the EU can support rural and urban development in Africa.

According to a joint paper from the European Commission and the EU's High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Federica Mogherini, the EU will facilitate investments from the private sector in the African agri-food sector, building on initiatives such as the existing Agriculture Financing Instrument (AgriFI), in order to help boost jobs and address food security.

The plan also envisages enhancing vocational training and education in agriculture and the agri-food sector, in partnership with farmer organisations, as well as fostering research and innovation, building on the work of the existing Africa-EU roadmap on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture – FNSSA). The EU has in particular earmarked more than €4.2 billon for the 2014-2020 period for actions related to food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture and fisheries.

Agriculture is a vital source of income for many Africans, and the EU is an important export market for African agricultural and food products. Agri-food imports to Europe from sub-Saharan Africa are worth more than €13.9bn; cocoa beans (€4.3bn) and related products such as cocoa paste and powder (€1.4bn) are the most common imports. EU agri-food exports to sub-Saharan Africa are around €8.5bn, with wheat (€1.1bn) the biggest export product.

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