By Savanna Henderson, Humanitas Global
Last year, the AU announced that 2014 would be the “Year of Agriculture and Food Security” to mark the 10th anniversary of the omprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). CAADP is the policy framework for agricultural transformation, economic growth, food security and nutrition and overall prosperity for Africa. Adopted in 2003 as a New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) program, the CAADP focuses on expanding agricultural growth that will benefit rural communities through increasing income with stronger agricultural markets both nationally and globally and ensuring farmers access to the market economy, improved infrastructure, expanded agricultural research to be disseminated to farmers, promoting and implementing sustainable agriculture and improved food security.
In 2014, in recognition of the 10th anniversary of CAADP, the African Union Commission (AUC) reviewed, strategized and developed goals, actions and targets for the next decade to 2025 to continue the goals of the CAADP. As part of this review, AU Heads of State and Government adopted the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agriculture Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods. Some of the goals within the Malabo Declaration address similar goals to the CAADP, but with more specific targets and goals. The goals to be achieved are admirably dauntless. They include:
- A recommitment to the Principles and Values of the CAADP Process
- A recommitment to enhance investment finance in agriculture
- A commitment to end hunger by 2025 including:
- At least a doubling of productivity(inputs, irrigation, mechanization)
- Reduction of stunting to 10%
- Commitment to halve poverty by 2025 through inclusive agricultural growth and transformation
- Commitment to boosting intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and services
- Commitment to Enhancing resilience in livelihoods and production systems to climate variability and other shocks
- Commitment to mutual accountability to actions and results
While these goals are indeed admirable, they echo some of the Millennium Development Goals, which ended with a positive note, but still have not been fully met. For instance, hunger in sub-Saharan Africa has decreased but the proportion of undernourished people remains around 23%. Likewise, extreme poverty has been reduced but not eliminated. What is unique about the Malabo Declaration is the supporting Implementation Strategy and Roadmap (IS&R) to guide in developing action plans to start making progress towards the ambitious goals. The last three CAADP Partnership Platform Meetings focused on the challenges, accomplishments, and learnings from both in the first 10 years of CAADP. Priorities, actions areas, and implementation in the IS&R were tailor-made by 10 years of study, experience, and response to develop a context-specific roadmap for realizing the goals of the Malabo Declaration.
In early July, Dr. Abele Haile Gabriel, Director of Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission, presented more detailed aspects of the IS&R and what African countries are striving to accomplish this year in regards to the Malabo Declaration. Emphasized was the need to increase private sector involvement in addition to strengthening public-private partnerships that include smallholder farmers. In addition, one activity highlighted in the IS&R by Dr. Abele is the need to establish and institutionalize mutual accountability mechanisms.
“When I look at some of the questions that were raised, they are related to inclusiveness. I think this a key word. I have been speaking to people who are involved in supporting the implementation of strategies, policies, projects on the ground in different capacities. We are very much committed to making sure all the stakeholders are involved, not just participating but co-owning the process. We also expect them to be as inclusive as possible at their level. The African Union is a union of the people and the government- so that the voices of the people are heard and acted upon. Mutual accountability is very serious.”
One of the goals of the Declaration is to allocate at least 10% of public expenditure to agriculture and rural development. To date, eight countries have exceeded this target and many other member countries are making significant progress towards this goal. This goal is critical to cutting hunger, food waste, and stunting and enhancing productivity. Investments in infrastructure, loss-reducing technology, and modernized production systems are all key to achieving the Malabo goals but these technologies and benefits must reach the producers. Some of these producers were just recently integrated into the Malabo Declaration’s action plans.
The 11th CAADP Partnership Platform meeting took place in Johannesburg, South Africa from March 25 to March 26. Like previous CAADP PP meetings, the focus was on translating the Malabo Declaration into actions and impactful results, but the theme of this year was, “Walking the Talk: Delivering on Malabo Commitments in Agriculture for Women Empowerment and Development”. Women smallholder farmers make up nearly 50% of the sub-Saharan agricultural labor force but are often left out of national agricultural policies. Delegates focused on the critical need for policies supporting and strengthening women’s capacity to participate in state-led efforts to improve land and water management, rural infrastructure, market access, and agricultural research.
The time period for the Malabo Declaration comes to an end in 2025 and continued efforts of translating commitments into action and results will pave the way for a hunger and poverty-free Africa.