ACP news – Post date: May 25th, 2020.

Joint Statement by the Heads of the OACPS, CARICOM and PIFS

The Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), the Secretariat of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) have issued a joint statement on the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic impact. Among other issues, they note the negative effect on all economies in the world, particularly in terms of commodity prices, fiscal revenues, foreign exchange receipts, foreign financial flows, food supply chains, travel restrictions, the travel, hotel and tourism industries, and labour markets, and recognise that these economic and social challenges are likely to be more disastrous in developing countries. They call for debt relief to include the most vulnerable economies in the world, including ACP Member States. Specifically, they “urge our development partners to collaborate expeditiously by reviewing any unnecessary bureaucracy to facilitate movement of health professionals, essential cargo, and emergency medical supplies to the affected communities in our regions.” They also call on all countries to ensure that the economic recovery measures to tackle COVID-19 align with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The statement is signed by H.E. Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, Secretary-General of OACPS; H.E. Irwin LaRocque, Secretary-General of CARICOM and CARIFORUM; and H.E. Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary-General of PIF.

Enabling agricultural investment in the Caribbean post-COVID

The fifth webinar of the FAO’s COVID-19 and Food Systems Series, co-organised with the CARICOM Secretariat, focused on “Enabling agricultural investment in the Caribbean for an effective response and post-COVID-19 recovery”. The webinar took place on 7 May and can be viewed here. Topics covered include “Coronavirus: The food supply chain under pressure”; “CARICOM COVID-19 Food and Security Action Plan coordination and implementation”; and “Private sector leading growth in the region in a post COVID-19 world”.

CORAF: Measures to ease the burden on producers

In order to save the agricultural season, which has been severely disrupted by the coronavirus health crisis, experts at CORAF (Conseil ouest et centre africain pour la recherche et le développement agricoles / West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development, WECARD) have suggested immediate measures to be taken by both States and producers. They concern the availability and ease of access to seeds for small producers in order to guarantee food for tomorrow and protect the region from food insecurity. They are :

  • Make a rapid inventory of available seed stocks both at the community level and from approved distributors;
  • Carry out direct seed distribution or the granting of seed vouchers for vulnerable farmers;
  • Create solidarity networks for social protection and conservation of seed stocks at the level of farmers and avoid selling them on the market;
  • Set up an information and monitoring system to continuously disseminate the seed supply-and-demand situation;
  • Organise mini-markets and seed fairs respecting social distance to facilitate the supply of seeds to producers;
  • Exempt seed operators and small farmers from movement restrictions while respecting precautionary measures, so that they can carry out field work and transport inputs and products;
  • Facilitate cross-border seed trade.

In addition to public authorities, the experts advise producers on six good actions to take:

  • Farmers should safely save seeds already available for the next growing season;
  • Refrain as much as possible from selling seeds or consuming them;
  • Stimulate strategic alliances that enable and strengthen collaboration between groups in providing appropriate storage conditions and inter-community exchanges of quality seed;
  • To ensure supply from reliable sources, in particular authorised producers and distributors;
  • Apply technical advice and good agricultural practices to intensify production and improve yields;
  • Given the importance of the informal seed system in West Africa, it is recommended that greater emphasis be placed on sorting, cleaning and hermetic conservation of farmer-saved seed.

Digital technologies and food system transformation: Lessons from Kenya’

IFPRI Africa and the Malabo Montpellier Panel are hosting a webinar on 4 June: ”Are digital technologies the answer to food system transformation in Africa during Covid-19? Lessons from Kenya”. Discussions will be based on the Malabo Montpellier Panel report “Byte by Byte: Policy Innovation for Transforming Africa’s Food System with Digital Technologies”. The report summarises the key findings of a systematic analysis of what seven African countries – Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Nigeria, Morocco, Rwanda, Ghana – at the forefront of progress on digitalization of the agriculture sector have done right.

Kenya has an advanced digital environment and the second fastest internet in Africa (after Madagascar). According to the World Bank’s EBA ICT index, Kenya ranks top among African countries. With a score of 7 out of 9, the country offers a superior system of laws, regulations, and policies that promote an enabling digitalization environment for the provision and use of ICT services, particularly in rural areas. The speakers will discuss the concrete practical steps that Kenya has taken to put into action a set of winning programme policies and partnerships to develop a digitalization ecosystem that will create new employment opportunities for young people and improve the livelihoods of rural communities.

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