Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture Josefa Sacko revealed when addressing journalists during the 3rd Ordinary Session of the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment that was held recently at the AUC Headquarters with a view to addressing the challenges facing the continent like food insecurity and the effects of climate change.
“Progress has been made and the number of countries on track has increased and countries have put more efforts in implementing the Malabo Declaration Commitments and AU would help in sharing lessons and best practices as well as aid countries on what priorities need critical attention” said the Commissioner
She further said that African countries should increase investment and finance in agriculture to improve access for men and women engaged in agriculture to financial and advisory services and to improve data collection systems.
On her part Chair of the STC Bureau and Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza said meeting the Malabo commitments implies that further development of agriculture markets and trade in agricultural inputs and outputs will continue to play a pivotal role, because it is mostly through markets that farm producers will gain greater access to productivity-enhancing inputs and equipment that farmers and agro-food processors will have more opportunities to earn income from their products that investors, including farmers, will see opportunities to invest in additional production, processing and marketing capacities.
She noted that major constraints on national and regional food marketing and trade include.High transport costs resulting from poor infrastructure and inadequate transport policies,Important post-harvest losses due to poor storage infrastructure and processing facilities Unclear trade policies and regimes, Ineffective implementation of regional trade agreements, Lack of harmonized standards.
Others are rules and regulations Restrictive customs/crossborder procedures,Poor stakeholder information on markets, policies and regulations,and Limited access to efficient and affordable value chain and trade finance.
Tackling these constraints calls for facing up to two broad categories of challenges: prioritizing and filling the deficit in hard and soft market and trade infrastructure, tackling the policy and institutional deficiencies to strengthen intra-regional and inter-regional market integration and trade facilitation.
Moreover, there is a challenge of linking the agriculture, industrialization and trade policy and investment planning processes. Upgrading intra-African food and agricultural trade out of informality is a major challenge on the way forward.
The African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government adopted the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) in 2003 in Maputo, Mozambique as the Flagship Programme of the African Union for agriculture and food security. The Maputo Declaration on CAADP sets broad targets of 6 percent annual growth in agricultural GDP, and allocation of at least 10 percent of public expenditures to the agricultural sector.
From 2003 to 2013, CAADP implementation demonstrated that Africa had well crafted, home-grown framework guiding policies, strategies and actions for agricultural development and transformation.
This was instrumental in raising the profile of agriculture to the centre of development agenda at national, regional and global levels. It also facilitated mobilisation and alignment of multi-stakeholders partnerships and investments around national agriculture and food security investment plans (NAIPs) that have been developed through the CAADP process.
In 2013, after a decade of implementation, demand for more clarity was expressed by AU Member States and stakeholders in terms of further elaboration and refinement of the CAADP targets, and assessment of technical efficacies and political feasibilities for success in agricultural transformation. In addition, there was a need to move from planning to effective implementation for results and impact in changing people’s lives because most of the NAIPs were not fully implemented. This underperformance was due to various reasons such as inadequate funding, no appropriate institutions and policies, low leadership capacity, weak mutual accountability system and culture, among others.
This is why, AU Heads of State and Government adopted the Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation in June 2014 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. The Malabo Declaration sets the Africa 2025 Vision for Agriculture which is implemented within the Framework of CAADP as a vehicle to implement and achieve the First Ten Year Implementation Plan of Africa’s Agenda 2063.
Among other commitments, the leaders committed to Mutual Accountability to Results and Actions by conducting a biennial Agricultural Review Process that involves tracking, monitoring and reporting on implementation progress in achieving the provisions of the Malabo Declaration. This Commitment translates, this time, a stronger political will for AU Leaders to effectively achieve Agricultural Growth and Transformation on the Continent by 2025 for improved livelihoods and shared prosperity for African citizens.