When ONE and ANSAF delivered a petition earlier this month on behalf of more 16,000 African citizens to Tanzania’s State House, our message was received with the urgency it deserved.
President Jakaya Kikwete had invited several African Ambassadors and the donor community to witness this event and it was clear to us from the word go that the president was indeed taking the issue of food insecurity in Africa very seriously. An event that was supposed to take about an hour, ended up with us being at Ikulu for more than three hours with President Kikwete having time for each and everyone present. He took time to mingle and speak not only with the Ambassadors present but also the small holder farmers personally.
These informal meetings and conversation saw President Kikwete ask the farmers to return the very next day, so that he could hear first hand what they would like to see his government do to boost agriculture in the rural areas.
This humble gesture left us rest assured that the petition could not have been in better hands. As if to confirm this notion, President Jakaya Kikwete went ahead and did two things:
- He made a bold and public declaration that he would commit 10% of his national budget towards agriculture and rural development.
- President Kikwete also promised to deliver the petition to African Heads of State at the next African Union meeting in Malawi this July.
For us this was a clear demonstration of an African leader taking responsibility and showing leadership on an issue that has the potential of transforming the whole continent.