As ONE continues to make inroads in influencing agricultural policy reforms in Africa, its efforts are being further strengthened by the 120 organisations who have joined the Do Agric call. Nachilala Nkombo, ONE’s Africa Deputy Director, reports from Addis Ababa.
Chinua Achebe once said: “People say that if you find water rising up to your ankle that is the time to act, not only when it is around your neck”. We may have started a bit late, but I am thrilled that as a continent we have begun dealing with the rising water in a form of extreme poverty.
I was thrilled to join farmers, agriculture and food security experts as well as ministers from across the continent in various dynamic conversations on the opportunities and key steps Africa should take to fully transform its agriculture sector at the annual Conference of Ministers of Agriculture, Rural Development, local government Fisheries and Aquaculture recently hosted by the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
This year’s weeklong annual convention of Ministers was enormously important for the future of Africa. It marked the beginning of policy discussions on new priorities, goals and targets to be accomplished in the next 10 years of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
We are delighted that the recommendations from this high-level meeting now form the basis for the AU’s June summit discussions and declaration taking place in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, where African Heads of states will gather to agree on a new ten year commitment to address food insecurity in the continent. The importance of this occasion cannot be over emphasised, particularly when we consider the underwhelming performance in agricultural investment by African governments over the past decade. The AU confirmed that only 13 countries have so far met the Maputo financing targets and only 8 African countries have consistently met the investment targets since 2003.
Another important area of focus tackled by the meeting was one of our key most areas of interest, increasing the productivity and competitiveness of African small holder farmers in particular women farmers.
We have already mobilised 300,000 African citizens to call for their governments campaign call for to invest in their farmers, food and their futuresthrough our Do Agric campaign. Our key focus area moving forward is strongly encouraging our governments to move from just saying the right things towards putting their money where their mouths are. In this regard, the ONE Africa team used the opportunity presented by this meeting to lobby experts and ministers from the AU states in attendance and to promote the adoption of the Joint Policy Recommendations which were developed in partnership with 120 formations that included African farmers, small-scale producers and civil society organisations from across the African continent.
It was encouraging to realise that the recognition of ONE’s role in highlighting the issues of agricultural investments in the continent is growing. I was tasked with chairing a session where farmers and civil society organisations engaged Ministers and their delegations on the 10 key Joint Policy Recommendations that Africa leaders must address in the next 10 years of CAADP. Dr Sipho Moyo had the honour of leading the discussions during the Africa Union Commission(AUC) and ONE Ministers breakfast as well as speaking on a panel during the main AUC session.
Along with our partners, we regard these recommendations as game changers in the continent’s agricultural sector. Titled: Rhetoric to Action, they have potential to remedy the low development in the food production sector and food insecurity in Africa, where 223 million people (a quarter of the population) live in hunger.
I am highly encouraged by the coherence between the joint policy recommendations, the practical knowledge and views of experts and ministers. This make the prospects of the adoption by heads of states of this time bound and result based framework for measuring success by 2025 high.