Xinhua, Addis Ababa : Agriculture and food security are likely to be the main focus of discussions when leaders from 54 African countries gather at an African Union summit next week. Africa has long recognized the importance of agriculture as the key to growth and poverty reduction due to its heavy weight in African economies and livelihood. In many African countries, most of the populations are engaged in the agriculture sector, which, for example, employs in Mozambique and Burkina Faso about 80 percent of the active labor force, 71 percent in Uganda, and 65 percent in Tanzania. The poor are concentrated in rural areas, and most of the extremely poor rely on subsistence farming for their livelihood. In 2003, the African Union adopted the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), setting broad targets of 6 percent annual growth in agricultural GDP, and allocation of at least 10 percent of public expenditures to the agricultural sector. To date, annual agricultural GDP growth has averaged nearly 4 percent since 2003 – well above the agricultural GDP growth rates for the previous several decades. On average, public agricultural expenditures have risen by over 7 percent per year across Africa since 2003, nearly doubling public agricultural expenditures since the launch of CAADP. Nine countries have reached or surpassed the 10 percent budget allocation target while another group of nine countries are currently spending between 5 and 10 percent. At the upcoming 22nd African Union summit, slated for January 30-31 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, African leaders will explore ways to revitalize agriculture, the backbone of the African economy, under the theme: “Transforming Africa’s Agriculture: Harnessing Opportunities for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development.” Progress will be reviewed at the gathering, where leaders are also expected to discuss the challenges, such as on soil degradation, climate change, and pressure on land and water, and to scale up measures to further promote the revitalization of the agriculture sector. To this end, African leaders will renew political commitment and engage all stakeholders to boost efforts to promote agricultural production and to ensure sustainability. One of such thematic activities during the assembly sessions of the summit will be the launch of the 2014 Year of Agriculture and Food Security in Africa, marking the 10th anniversary of the CAADP.