Audax from ANSAF: on winning the ONE Africa Award, making farming sexy, and ugali.

Audax from ANSAF: on winning the ONE Africa Award, making farming sexy, and ugali.

audaxAudax Rukonge is the Executive Secretary of ANSAF, winners of the 2013 ONE Africa Award.  He explains how it felt to win the award, and what it will mean for the future of the organisation.

We applied for the ONE Award because we believe agriculture can transform the lives of smallholder farmers, and address food insecurity as well as poverty.  From the work we have been doing, the people we have been linking with and the changes we have started seeing back home, we felt that we could be a strong candidate for the ONE Award this year.

ANSAF stands for Agriculture Non-State Actors Forum.  It’s a network for smallholder farmers, NGOs and businesses in Tanzania.

We help smallholder farmers to reflect on what is working or not working in their own experience and use this to develop an advocacy agenda. We discuss this with senior government officials, donors, and the parliamentary committee on agriculture.

Cashew nut processing in Tanzania.  Photo: ONE

Cashew nut processing in Tanzania. Photo: ONE

Over the last six years our work has mainly been on budget allocation, trying to increase the share going to smallholder farmers in the agriculture sector.  We represent several farmer groups but when it comes to policy change, this affects the entire population of farmers in Tanzania – up to 10 million people.

When I found out we had won the award, I thought ‘wow this is fantastic!’ It was great news for us.  Everyone was excited, including the board members back home.

audaxfactsBut it made us think – this now sets us a challenge.  We need to increase the work we do: supporting more farmers, accessing more information and helping raise the farmers’ voices with our dialogue platforms.

We also want to do more to encourage the government.  It has been investing in the agricultural sector, but we want these funds to be strategically distributed in such a way that many more people are lifted from poverty and hunger. So we need to intensify our advocacy work, including our campaign for 10% of national budget to be allocated to agriculture and increased strategic investment.

We want to do more work with the media and journalists to give farmers a bigger platform. And finally we want to do more budget tracking to check how funds for agriculture are being allocated. At the moment we track eight or ten local government authorities every year, but with the ONE Award prize funds we can increase this number.  We’d also like to go beyond agriculture and look at the entire national budget’s major investment areas and the results of that spending.

In the future I would like to see ANSAF mentioned when people talk about agriculture sector transformation.  We hope to reach beyond Tanzania and link up across East Africa, the whole continent or even with the AU to put forward our opinions on trade policies and the obstacles we need to overcome.

 Watch a video about ANSAF’s work in Tanzania.

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