It was a very happy moment on the 7th November 2018 when the participants of the 4th African Organic Conference (AOC) in Saly, Senegal, witnessed the official launch of the Action Plan (2015-2020) and Strategic Plan (2015-2025) of the EOA Initiative. The overall goal of the initiative is to mainstream EOA into national agricultural production systems by 2025 in order to improve agricultural productivity, food security, access to markets and sustainable development in Africa. Speaking before the launch, Dr. David Amudavi (Executive Director of BvAT) and also the Project Coordinator of the SDC’s support to the EOA Initiative commented that the two plans were available in the four African Union official languages (English, Arabic, Portuguese and French) and would soon be translated to Swahili. Dr. Amudavi thanked the African Union Commission (AUC), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) for the continued support for the growth and development of ecological organic agriculture in Africa. He informed the event participants that the EOA Initiative started in 2011 following AU supported process that was led by civil society organizations from representative countries in West, East and South Africa.
The occasion was graced by Mr. Ernest Aubee, the Chair of the EOA-I West Africa Cluster, and a representative of the ECOWAS (Economic Commission of West African States) to the AU-led CSC. Mr. Aubee applauded the efforts by Biovision Africa Trust to prepare the plans on behalf of the CSC and partners and thanked SDC and SSNC for the continued support to the development of the EOA Initiative in Africa. He remarked that the efforts complemented the decision by the Heads of State and Government to support ecological organic agriculture in Africa. In attendance was Mr. Jonathan Ocran, Policy Officer-Livestock at the African Union Commission (AUC) and the focal point for EOA at the AUC. After the launch copies of the two plans were given to the conference partners.
This event followed the 10th Continental Steering Committee (CSC) of the Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) Initiative which had been held in Dakar, Senegal, from 2nd to 4th November. The members had joined other participants to the 4th African Organic Conference, a platform of multistakeholders held every three years, organized around the theme: Ecological and Organic strategies for viable continental and national development in the context of the African Union’s Agenda 2063. It was befitting for the launch to be held during this special event. The 10th CSC Meetings (Sub-Committee and Main Committee) were chaired by the new chairperson from the AU Dr. Simplice Nouala, the Agriculture and Food Security Division Head, who has taken over from Dr. Janet Edeme, the Rural Economy Division Head, who was acting for the Agriculture and Food Security Division. In his maiden speech to the CSC, Dr. Nouala expressed his gratitude and said he was honored and prepared to take up the new role at the CSC on behalf of the African Union Commission (AUC). He then conveyed greetings to the CSC from the Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Her Excellency, Ambassador Josefa Correia Sacko.
In his communication to the CSC, the Chair outlined the benefits of Ecological Organic Agriculture and its role in economic, environmental, social, health and cultural development in Africa. He stressed that it was for this reason that the Heads of State and Government of the African Union adopted the decision on organic farming in 2011. It was after the same decision that the EOA Initiative was founded. Dr. Nouala noted the urgent need to have the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA) get actively involved in the activities of the EOA Initiative.
The 4th AOC is Africa’s premier Organic Platform that convenes organic policy makers, donors, farmers and other actors from across the continent and beyond to share experiences, lessons and chat how to develop the organic sector on the continent. The 4th AOC brought together more than 150 participants drawn from all over Africa. Despite the last-minute change of the conference venue from Cameroon to Senegal necessitated by the upcoming Cameroon national elections, partner participants managed to travel to the conference in Senegal.