Civil society leaders from six African nations gathered in Accra for a five-day training workshop aimed at building an effective advocacy movement for sustainable and equitable agricultural development in Africa.
The workshop on ‘Stregthening the Advocacy Movement for Equitable Smallholder Agriculture in Africa’ is being hosted by SEND-Ghana with funding support from Trust Africa was to help sharpen the policy advocacy skills of the advocacy partners.
Speaking at the opening session, Dr Tendai Murisa, Executive Director Trust Africa, said the recent food crisis had given Africa a huge opportunity for agriculture development but so far the narrative had remained muted.
He said the situation had given rise to multinationals as the biggest actors in agriculture on the continent both in terms of revenues and investments.
“They are the ones even in the time of food crisis that make the most money,” he said, adding that because of the different protocols signed by the Africa countries, the continent had opened up driven by the logic of the market.
Few African countries have the capacity to produce fertilizer so we import from countries and multi-nationals and the same with seeds, he said.
Dr Murisa said the long-term goal was to build an advocacy movement that engages vigorously in the agricultural policy-making processes in Africa.
A key area that the partners could focus on is to ensure that they held their governments accountable for the commitment they had made under the Maputo Declaration.
In signing the Maputo Declaration, the governments pledged to “increase public investment in agriculture by a minimum of 10 percent of their national budgets” and to “improve the productivity of agriculture to attain an average annual growth rate of 6 percent, with particular attention to small-scale farmers, especially focusing on women,” by the year 2015.
Dr Murisa said it would be important to see if the government had been making these allocations and to which sectors, adding that if followed carefully and critically it could be seen that most of the allocations go into payment of salaries and allowances of officials.
He said it was important not only to check if government was adhering to the percentage allocation but also to track how the distribution is being done.
Dr Bethule Nyamambi said without stronger civil society participation and particularly the engagement of smallholder farmers Africa was unlikely to achieve its vision of sustainable and equitable agriculture.
Ms Aisha Mohamed of SEND-Ghana said as partners of Trust Africa, in implementation of interventions and policy advocacy in the African context the meeting would be to review previous actions and planned for the future.
Ms Mohammed spoke on the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), as it related to SEND-Ghana’s work with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, especially budget tracking and community mobilization.
She said SEND-Ghana had been developing more inclusive platforms to engage government in formulating agricultural policies, establishing platforms to share best experience for improving agricultural policies.