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African agriculture, education and finance members see a strong African commitment to agricultural programmes as critical to unlocking European aid

The report examining Europe’s role in supporting African agriculture came as policy makers in both regions prepared for the third Africa-EU summit, held in November in Tripoli, which will define Africa-EU cooperation for many years to come. The analysis also coincides with ominous signs that global commodities markets could rock Africa with another round of sharp increases in food prices.

The sudden spike in food prices that occurred in 2007 and 2008 spread hunger and hardship to millions of Africans. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently warned that prices in some cereals are approaching 2008 levels. The Montpelier Panel is urging European and African leaders to move quickly to build a firewall against another surge.

The panel, presenting their case to UK’s Members of Parliament in late October, proposed establishing regulatory processes, along with global and national grain reserves, that could be employed to reduce extreme price volatility in global markets for cereals and staple crops, which have their greatest impact on poor countries.

“We want to see Europe and Africa working together to counter immediate threats to food security, and a new round of high food prices, while simultaneously increasing support for African-led efforts that for the first time in generations show that African governments are determined to literally grow their way towards health and prosperity,” said Sir Gordon Conway of Imperial College in London, who chaired the panel.

The Montpellier Panel Report, entitled Africa and Europe: Partnerships for Agricultural Developmen t , focuses on the follow-through from the L’Aquila G20 summit wherer wealthy governments in Europe and the US pledged US$22.5 billion to seek food security worldwide, with much of the funds to be spent on agriculture development in sub-Saharan Africa.

The analysis presents a situation in Africa in which investments are needed to address chronic problems and exploit the newly emerging African-led Green Revolution that is focused on increasing production on smallholder farms.