“Leadership is the principal driver”

Next year, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) celebrates its tenth anniversary. Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, Commissioner of Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union (AU) Commission, sums up progress achieved in Africa and the remaining challenges on the way to a food-secure continent.

Ms. Tumusiime, is Africa achieving the desired food and nutrition security requirements?

According to World Food Program, by 2009 Africa had about 212 million undernourished people – an increase of around 44 million from 1990. A recent series of reports from expert organisations such as the FAO indicate that one person in every four in Africa lacks adequate food for a healthy and active life. A number of challenges such as food prices and drought are pushing more people into poverty and hunger. This means we have to double food production to feed these populations. We are all aware that Africa's population has now surpassed one billion, growing by an average of more than 2.5 percent while agricultural growth lags behind by a significant margin. 

This is happening despite wonderful past progress that has been made in agricultural research and development, which means that we haven’t done enough. We are aware of the fundamental problems that lie ahead in this regard, mainly the ever increasing world population which requires to be fed from a food production that is not keeping pace with population growth, changes in climate and associated risks to farmers, soil degradation and volatility of agricultural prices that often send wrong signals to farmers.

What assurances can you give that frameworks such as CAADP can change the state of Africa’s agriculture? 

It is important to note the uniqueness of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) as an instrument to guide all continental efforts on agricultural development. Built within the principles, CAADP is intended to create and strengthen systems and capacities for consistent and sustainable agricultural policy-making, strategy development, effective implementation, and tracking for results and impact. Many actors in the process of agricultural transformation in Africa do not easily appreciate this unique requirement for a functional and successful agricultural system in Africa. The current challenges of Africa’s agriculture, including lack of seeds and functional seed formulation and delivery systems, limited or no farm inputs, dysfunctional markets, absence of agricultural service delivery systems, weak policy and instructional frameworks, are what defines the added value of CAADP for Africa. Since the commitment of Heads of State in 2003, there have been efforts to translate the commitments to what would actually help countries to strengthen their systems.

What is there to show that systems are getting stronger to ensure that there is food on the table and incomes are in the pockets of agricultural households?         

Our recent focus, mainly from 2007 to date, has been to initially help countries to redefine their agricultural strategies and plans, into what is called a CAADP Compact, that is, more scientific and evidence-based, stakeholder driven and comprehensive in nature. Many sceptics have limited their definition of CAADP to mean investment plans and Compacts. This is wrong. With clarity on visions, strategies and plans, our focus is now to strengthen capacities and systems for delivery of public sector services. Until this has been accomplished, we cannot effectively attract other key actors such as the private sector to implement plans. For example, the type of seeds to be developed or multiplied must be those seeds that have the greatest impact on food security and poverty. The choice cannot be made by scientists alone. Stakeholders have to be involved, too. The style and mode of its development has to be systematic and a mechanism needs to be created for its continued development and delivery as well as for monitoring its performance.

So with the plans and implementation systems, the many technologies that have been developed can be delivered to farmers. It should be understood that the initial CAADP focus does not mean that all other ongoing efforts have not been as helpful and must stop. No. This is why we welcome and support all ongoing efforts by different institutions, while we set the policies and strategies right. Experience has shown that without having the right policies in place, the ongoing efforts will go to waste.

Any example you can give on this type of progress?

So far, up to 30 countries in Africa have redefined their visions and strategies, called CAADP Compacts, and 27 of these have strong and credible investments plans that are being used as rallying instruments for public and private sector financing. Scanning through the specific progress made in individual countries, notable achievements have been registered in improving agricultural productivity and trade. Apart from the recent challenges in the Horn of Africa and Sahel, the continent has registered a stable food security environment over the last four years. Millions of farmers are food and nutritionally secure and are increasing their household incomes. CAADP has facilitated more donor coordination, harmonisation and alignment to country priorities.

Countries such as Rwanda, Ethiopia, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone have allocated additional financial resources to targeted programmes that have the highest potential to generate returns to these investments. Burundi alone raised its agricultural budget from two per cent in 2011 to twelve per cent in 2012. This is a significant shift after a redefined agricultural policy and strategy. CAADP has also facilitated the establishment of mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation, peer review, dialogue and accountability as well as of sharing best practices. You may recall that Heads of Government and organisations agreed to support countries with plans that are more country-led but comprehensive in nature, such as those of CAADP, at the 2009 G8 Summit in L’Aquila Italy. CAADP is used as a criterion for allocating resources from the public funding window of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program –GAFSP). To date, eleven countries have obtained a total grant of over 430 million US dollars from GAFSP to implement CAADP-aligned agricultural and food security programmes.

All the programmes identified for funding from GAFSP have a clear and direct relevance for enhancement of national and sub-national food security achievement objectives.  For instance, in Senegal, the 40 million US dollars in GAFSP funds will promote livestock and crop production in three high-potential, drought-prone zones, including investments focused on provision of water management systems, rural roads, vaccination centres, and financing for model ruminant and poultry operations. In Burundi, the 30 million US dollars allocation will improve water management and irrigation in two drought prone regions, with investments in infrastructure and agricultural intensification through improved technologies, productive assets, and the establishment of farmer field schools. In the same vein, in The Gambia, the 28 million US dollar grant will target three highly food-insecure regions via an integrated area development programme that includes land and water management, horticultural gardens, aquaculture farming, and small ruminant and poultry farming.

CAADP is also an instrument to rally national and global business leaders to invest their own and private money to specific agricultural value chains in Africa. As of now, seven countries – Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Ghana, Rwanda and Tanzania – are part of the pilot countries where global private sector companies are working with the regional and national private sector to invest in specific agricultural value chains expected to generate multiplier effects. Nigeria and Ivory Coast have requested to join as they are demonstrating their own commitments to CAADP.

CAADP shaped the 2012 G8 Summit focus, which was on Africa’s Food Security and Nutrition. This year’s focus was on how to bring in the private sector. Through CAADP, the Africa Union Commission partnered with the World Economic Forum to mobilise global business leaders, including farmers to create credible partnerships under the Umbrella Grow Africa – a platform to engage private sector and governments for African agriculture with a focus to raise the incomes and reduce poverty of smallholder farmers. In fact, over 30 billion US dollars have been mobilised to support these efforts in selected initial countries to implement CAADP under the G8 and New Africa Alliance on Food and Nutrition.       

As part of this private sector engagement, different inclusive financing models for specific value chains are being developed and implemented. Nigeria for example is beginning to implement credit risk and insurance schemes for farmers on selected commodities and value chains.       

But isn’t this progress only part of the process, rather than the desired impact?

Absolutely, but it is a necessary requirement. For us to embark on the next actions with confidence, we need to set the policies and strategies right. We need to make sure that all actors in the agricultural agenda at regional and country level understand and agree to the set of policies, strategies and priorities that would be relevant to raise their incomes. Historically, policies and strategies existed. Even governments used to promote certain technologies. This was being done in absence of evidence and ownership and was only based on the opinions and views of a few who were dominating decisions in research and policy choices. As a result, this compromised ownership, implementation and results, which is why CAADP brings in evidence on choices and policies but also facilitates ownership. So the experiences gained in the implementation of flagship programmes, such as those targeted to increase the availability of seeds and fertilisers, can only get stronger now that we have a set of redefined policies and focus.

Could you explain?

Under CAADP, farmers and stakeholders have defined what kind of seeds they need. As an example, they have prioritised maize, beans and cassava seeds, instead of those combined with potato seed, pineapple seed, tomato seed, planting materials for yams etc. This is not to mean that these combined seed requirements are not needed, they simply do not represent a right set and mix of priorities. The design of a seed multiplication programme in a country is now based on a set of right priorities rather than a combination of all which was thinly spreading resources and generating no or only limited impact. This is where we are confident that we shall generate results in a relatively shorter time than previously.  

Considering that 2013 will be ten years since CAADP was established, what is your main focus to ensure results and impact?

You may need to note that various actors have been at the forefront in the implementation of CAADP: the African Union Commission, the NEPAD – New Partnership for Africa’s Development – Planning and Coordinating Agency, the Regional Economic Communities, the knowledge institutions, the non-state actors and African governments themselves. Our Heads of State, at the recent AU Summit and after recognising this ten-year Anniversary of CAADP, proposed to declare 2013 a year of Agriculture and CAADP. On our part, we shall work to raise the profile of agriculture and CAADP in Member States through a number of fronts.

First, we shall commission specific analytical pieces to help us identify key drivers of success and also come up with re-defined agricultural transformation actions and targets beyond the commonly known CAADP targets of ten per cent allocation of public budget to agriculture and six per cent annual agricultural growth.

Secondly, we shall use the technical, political and policy platforms to generate consensus on these actions and targets before seeking for recommitment of Heads of State and Government at the July 2014 AU Summit. We will then develop a scorecard with a set of key indicators which will be monitored, tracked and used for accountability.

In your view, what are the drivers of success?

From experience since 2003, the drivers of success are not many; the principle one is leadership. There must be a key political champion at Head of State level to steer and champion a vision on agricultural revolution. Linked to this is the required leadership to instil systems of planning, implementation, and tracking progress. Accountability systems must be instilled. This must be done under the four principles of trust, openness, fairness and accountability. Countries must have the right policies, strategies, plans and programmes. As part of their openness, countries must ensure that all actions are informed by, and reported back to, all stakeholders, including smallholder farmers. Most fundamentally, leaders must preside over development of home-grown capacities for everything, including research, extension, market development and infrastructure.  Capacities must be developed, retained and enhanced. Without these, we shall continue to dream of success, but we may not live to see what success looks like in Africa.   

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