Interview with Josefa Sacko Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union

  • 04th June 2018
  • by secretary
1 June, 2018. Utrecht, the Netherlands. FoodFIRST conference “Team up with African Agripreneurs”

Interview with Josefa Sacko Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture African Union (AU)

Transcript and translation from the French
How can research be prioritised based on the needs of the private sector?
As you know the private agricultural sector in Africa is no well-developed. Agriculture in Africa is a farmers’ agriculture. But with the new model of agribusiness or agri-preneurs we have to converge to a responsible research for the private sector. At the African Union we are studying how we can this get partnership in our discussions. It’s the innovation part which is important. Research is a key sector and we will work with the private sector and look how research can be funded on the value chain to have a sustainable agribusiness and agri-preneurs in Africa.
Could there be a conflict of interests?
In the North African countries of the Maghreb there are few conflicts of interests because regulations are well developed. In sub-Saharan Africa we have to start such initiatives to avoid a conflict of interests in agricultural research. But research should also be funded by the private sector. The state cannot do everything and it benefits the entrepreneur.
What type of European expertise would be needed in agro-processing and packaging?
Europe has a lot of good experiences we can learn from because agribusiness works well. We have limits with branding and marketing for the African food products. For this we nee a partnership with the European Commission and other partners.  
What is the problem of food safety in Africa?
There is a decision of the African Union for a Food Safety Authority. We are working with the private sector – of which Nestle – if we can have a Pan African food safety laboratory. This discussion included the African Development Bank. With the launch of a Regional Free Trade zone which was launched in Kigali, food safety and phyto sanitary regulations become very important. At the level of the African Union we have a small unit responsible for phyto sanitary related to food.
How serious is the aflatoxin contamination?
This is really serious. We need to work with the small scale producers, to strengthen capacities and give much more attention to this problem because it’s about the preservation of our food. Aflatoxin affects the health of our communities. We need to tackle this problem of aflatoxins, ochrotoxins and other toxins which affects human health.


4-8 June 2018. Pretoria. South Africa. The Africa Food Safety Workshop aims to promote standards, reliable methods of analysis and interinstitutional cooperation for better control of mycotoxins and related contaminants.