Thursday, November 24, 2022: Ministers responsible for agriculture, natural resources and environment from COMESA Member States have accepted to support the development and implementation of the COMESA digital Regional Food Balance Sheet (RFBS) initiative.
This undertaking covers similar efforts that aim to strengthen agri-food data and information system in the region which will enable informed policy, investment, and trade decisions, and for emergency food and livelihood response in a rapidly changing environment.
COMESA is implementing the Regional Food Balance Sheet initiative which is designed to provide data, messaging and information that governments, the private sector and development organizations need to make informed investments, create and implement policies.
It was developed in collaboration with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, supported by the UK Foreign Office, the Commonwealth and Development Office, the USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation
In a virtual meeting conducted Thursday, 24 November 2022, the Ministers pledged to promote and implement initiatives that contribute to reducing post-harvest losses, improve agriculture commodity aggregation and storage, and enhance competitive access to markets and trade in the region and internationally.
“We commit ourselves to enhancing access to production inputs, services and improved technologies including leveraging digital technologies to drive agriculture and livestock production and productivity,” the Ministers stated in a joint declaration at the end of the meeting.
This was the eighth meeting of the Ministers and was chaired by the Egyptian Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation H.E. Elsayed Elkosayar.
The Ministers undertook to promote and implement initiatives that contribute to reducing post-harvest losses, improve agriculture commodity aggregation and storage, and enhance competitive access to markets and trade in the region and internationally.
They urged Member States and COMESA Secretariat to further develop and implement policies, regulations, programmes, and support quality infrastructure development to enhance plant and animal health, improve the quality and safety standards and competitiveness of agricultural commodities and food products in the region.
In her address to the Ministers, Secretary General of COMESA, Chileshe Kapwepwe said the organization will continue to deploy skills and efforts in designing policies and instruments to hasten agricultural growth, facilitate trade and investment among its Member States and with the rest of the world.
“Driving vibrant, equitable and sustainable agricultural and rural development in our region requires strategic and coordinated investments in social and economic infrastructure,” Ms Kapwepwe added “This is what will enable our rural communities to engage in dynamic and rewarding economic activities.”
Other key initiatives to support Member States include policy and strategy development on climate change, review of Nationally Determined Contributions and upscaling Climate Smart Agriculture, development of a regional Blue Economy Strategy and the development of the COMESA Regional Guidelines for the Establishment, Operation/Management of Warehouse Receipt System for Agricultural Commodities.
The meeting was also addressed by representatives of cooperating partners of COMESA including Dr Appollos Nwafor, (AGRA) Mr Joseph Silavwe (European Union Delegation to Zambia and COMESA) Mr Patrice Talla (Food and Agriculture Organization).
This meeting was preceded by the 8th joint technical meeting on agriculture, environment and natural resources on 22 -23 November 2022.