Nachilala Nkombo writes about lessons from the success of Rwanda shared during a caucus for Ministers of Agriculture leading agricultural reforms in their countries.
On May day, on the margins of the Africa Union Joint Conference of Ministers of Agriculture, Rural Development, Fisheries and Aquaculture held in Addis Ababa, ONE and its partners teamed up with two Do Agric Champions, H.E Rhoda Peace Tumussime– AU Agriculture and Rural Economy Commissioner and the Honourable Minister of Agriculture in Rwanda, Dr Agnes Kalibata to organise a caucus for Ministers of Agriculture leading agriculture reforms in their countries.
We organised the meeting to learn and share, lessons directly from the ministers on what had worked and what had not worked under Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP).The meeting focused on the experience of Rwanda which was the front runner in embracing CAADP in country.
It was humbling to listen to how the ministers are taking actions to fix specific problems that matter to farmers in their countries. Among those that attended the meeting were the Honourables Dr Charles N Mc. Clain and Dr. Sizi Subah both of Liberia, Hon Peter Sinon of Seychelles, Hon Aquinas of Quansah of Ghana, Hon Greyford Monde and Hon Nicholas Banda both of Zambia, Florence Chenoweth of Liberia, Honourable Dr Joseph Made of Zimbabwe and Honourable Tress Bucyanayandi of Uganda
The caucus discussed success and challenges experienced in the implementation of CAADP.Rwanda for example noted the set of actions it took that increased the productivity of its small holder farmers and lifted 1 million people out of poverty. “CAADP forced us to lead, sit down and prioritise” said Rwandese Agriculture Minister Agnes Kalibata. Rwanda pumped in lots of resources to support specific value chains, it increased access to extension per hectares of cultivable land, and it promoted land consolidation and mainstreamed youth and women in these targeted value chains.
Rwanda also drew on Zimbabwe’s experience with respect to some advanced technologies deplored in its programmes. There are also many other lessons and examples of out of the box thinking by other African countries employed to change their agricultural landscape. Sierra Leone increased access to credit for farmers, by supporting the creation of farmer owned banks in villages. Mauritania implemented land tenure systems to improve access to land and insurance interest rates dropped from 13% to 6%.
The ONE team and its civil society partners also had the honour of sharing the Non State Actors Joint Policy Recommendations by the Ministers. As Non state actors we appreciated the commissioners and the ministers openness to these recommendations. These mirrored policy action areas by different African countries that have contributed to successes of the first phase of CAADP. From the caucus, this team of reformers went to join the main ministerial meeting, which developed an Agriculture results framework that will influence the AU heads of state discussions in Malabo