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France and the AU mull measures to mitigate food price volatility

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Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 28 April 2011-A French delegation headed by Mr Pierre Jacquet, Chief Economist for the Agence Francaise Developpement (AFC) was at the African Union on the 27th of April to discuss the AU’s views as well as its expectations of the G20 on the issue of food price volatility, as well as to find means to react to its implications. France is the current chair of the G20.

The delegation held a meeting with the Commission’s Deputy Chairperson Mr Erastus Mwencha who was accompanied by the Commissioner for Trade and Industry Mrs Elisabeth Tankeu, the Director of Rural Economy and Agriculture, the Deputy Chief of Staff in the Bureau of the Chairperson and other senior members of the Commission.

The two delegations engaged on mechanisms that could be deployed by Africa to compensate for food price increases, to prepare for crises such as droughts and floods, risk management and African initiatives to ensure food security. In this respect, the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) was discussed as the continental framework within which agricultural development is taking place. The delegations also shared ideas on integration of markets and sharing of food among countries.

The discussion on food price volatility is critical to Africa because food price increases and volatility puts at risk the already fragile food security of many poor people. Since last June, the international prices of maize and wheat have almost doubled. The increases drive up food inflation in many countries.

The issue of food prices and the need for regulation of the markets is close to French president Mr. Nicholas Sarkozy. At the 16th Summit of the AU in Addis Ababa in January,
Mr Sarkozy highlighted the need for regulation of the financial and food markets to stop massive speculation and increases in food prices. He also spoke about the need for innovative financing, pledging that by the end of the year France will have innovative financing for Africa.

Directorate of Information and Communication. African Union Commission E mail: Fax 251 11 5511299