The Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS) is holding a Regional High-Level Forum on Agricultural Sector Development in Central Africa in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, with the theme “Unlocking the Potential of Industrialization and Agricultural Value Chains in Central Africa: A South-South and Triangular Cooperation Approach.”

The event, organized by the OACPS Information Centre on South-South and Triangular Cooperation, aims to promote dialogue and collaboration in addressing the challenges and opportunities facing the agricultural sector in the region.

HE. Daniel Evina Abe’e, Dean of OACPS ambassadors, gave the opening keynote speech. In his address, Mr. Daniel Evina Abe’e, the Dean of Ambassadors of the OACPS, expressed his gratitude to President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea for his support and contribution to the organization. He noted that agriculture is the foundation of the economies of OACPS member countries and plays a crucial role in food security and poverty reduction. However, he acknowledged the difficulties and threats faced by the sector, as well as the opportunities that need to be seized.

Mr. Evina Abe’e highlighted the OACPS’s commitment to the sustainable transformation of the agricultural sector, as outlined in their policy document titled “Investing and Transforming the ACP Agricultural Sector: A New Approach to OACPS Support for Agricultural Value Chain Development.” This approach focuses on environmental protection, resilience building in rural communities, and the promotion of agro-industry as a driver of economic prosperity.

He also mentioned the collaboration between the OACPS and the European Union (EU) in developing programs to promote value addition in agricultural production. Notable among these is a 154-million-euro framework program on agricultural value chains, which targets 11 key commodities, including cocoa, cashew nuts, coffee, cassava, cotton, maize, livestock, coconut, sugar, rum, and kava.

The Dean of Ambassadors reiterated the importance of value addition in the agricultural sector, citing the concerns raised by the OACPS Heads of State during their 10th Summit in Luanda, Angola in December 2022. The Heads of State emphasized the need for OACPS countries to move up the value chain and diversify their economies to reduce dependence on raw material exports.

Mr. Evina Abe’e emphasized that access to markets remains a major obstacle for farmers in the region and called for regional economic integration and the removal of trade barriers to ensure the full potential of agricultural products in national and international markets. He also stressed the need for increased financing in the agriculture sector and urged member states to create an enabling environment for investments.

The Dean of Ambassadors expressed his confidence that the forum would facilitate constructive discussions and lead to practical recommendations for the development of the agricultural sector in Central Africa. He reaffirmed the OACPS’s commitment to working alongside member states in strengthening the agricultural sector.

In closing, Mr. Evina Abe’e expressed gratitude to President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the government, and the people of Equatorial Guinea for their hospitality and support in organizing the forum. He also thanked all the participants for their presence and contribution to the event, wishing them fruitful exchanges during the two days of discussions.

The Regional High-Level Forum on Agricultural Sector Development in Central Africa provides a platform for stakeholders to share ideas, experiences, and best practices, with the aim of advancing agricultural development in the region. Through collaboration and cooperation, the OACPS and its member states are striving to unlock the potential of the agricultural sector and promote sustainable economic growth in Central Africa.”