Président de la Commission de l’Union Africaine (depuis le 1er. février 2008)
A media sensitisation workshop on one of the most topical issues of the past year — the question of agriculture in Africa or, as some of the participants prefer, African agriculture — was organised by the NEPAD Secretariat in Midrand, South Africa, on 6-7 November 2008. It focused on the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
Endorsed by the African Union (AU) and NEPAD in 2003, CAADP is an Africa-led and Africa-owned initiative and framework to rationalise and revitalise African agriculture for economic growth and lasting poverty reduction.
In some ways, the workshop grew out of the realisation that although the past few years have been characterised by an immense interest in high fuel prices, high food prices and the welfare of the agricultural sector, the African publics, especially in the rural areas, are rarely engaged in key messages concerning agriculture.
As the most important and in some cases the only realistic link between decision-makers and citizens, the media has a key role in informing the African population about agriculture issues and the relevance of agriculture to their own personal welfare and to the broader development of Africa.
It is against this background that the workshop brought together a team of agriculture, science and environmental-oriented journalists, editors and communications practitioners from East, West, North and Southern Africa.
It also attracted communications practitioners from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Broadly, the workshop’s objectives included :
To act as a knowledge sharing and learning session on the nexus between NEPAD-CAADP and the media in Africa ; To provide knowledge and competence in covering the key aspects of CAADP/ agriculture in Africa and its multifaceted impacts on the people of Africa ; To work towards the coordination of a cadre of mass-media personnel who are sensitive to the problems confronting African governments and publics in their attempts to respond to the rising food prices. During the workshop, Prof. Richard Mkandawire, Head of the Agriculture Unit/CAADP at the NEPAD Secretariat, called on the participants to advocate for the development of the agricultural sector in Africa.
“There are some successes, but there are still some challenges. The onus is on you to remind our people and our leaders of the commitment to agriculture-led socio-economic development,” he said.
“You must remind the people about the 10% national budget allocations to agriculture and the 6% sectoral growth as was agreed in the Maputo Declaration”.
The deliberations during the workshop were in-depth with many participants voicing their commitment to renew their advocacy on key agricultural issues.
Michael Anane, an environmental journalist who coordinates the League of Environmental Journalists and the Food First Information and Action Network in Ghana, called on the participants to take on a “rights-based approach” towards their reporting.
According to the participants, the idea is to prioritise reporting towards the basic human needs – food, nutrition, health and water – of most Africans.
Discussions during the workshop revolved around the following issues :
Challenges in telling agricultural stories (resources, finances, appeal) ; NEPAD-CAADP to be more pro-active in its engagements with key stakeholders ; Training, re-skilling for agricultural reporters ; Identification of key sources (scientists, PROs, CAADP focal point persons) at the national and regional levels ; Continuous sensitisation about key CAADP developments and processes. The workshop agreed on the following key actions :
To network and partner more proactively on key agricultural stories in Africa ; To be more proactive in telling the story of high food prices, nutrition and similar subjects from an African perspective ; The setting-up of a forum for immediate discussions ; (Mid term) NEPAD-CAADP / IFPRI / AGRA to carry out a skills assessment as a bridge towards future hands-on training sessions ; (Long term) Follow-up training sessions preferably in a location where sensitisation on NEPAD-CAADP would be most beneficial to the national media of that country. NEPAD News, November 14, 2008
3-14 November : NEPAD/GTZ train-the-trainer workshop for French-speaking journalists in West Africa, Abidjan, Cote d’ Ivoire.
1-5 December : CGIAR annual general meeting 2008 — Investing in agricultural science : the best bet for the future, Maputo, Mozambique.
4-5 December : Regional stakeholder engagement workshop, Midrand, South Africa. Source : NEPAD News, November 14, 2008
The proposed programmes under the Zambia NEPAD action plan (ZNAP) would help the nation’s potential in all sub-sectors of the economy, according to the Foreign Affairs Director of Development Cooperation and International Organisations, Anne Mtamboh, who added that the identified projects under various programmes have a high potential to generate accelerated and sustained economic growth.
Addressing the on-going Zambia stakeholder consultative meetings with NEPAD in Lusaka on 6 November 2008, she said the economic growth could be expected over a period of time provided there is appropriate, sufficient and effective investment.
Mrs. Mtamboh disclosed that the the projects currently in the ZNAP document include the Zambia-Angola rail and road link, a new oil refinery, a strategic fuel reserve and the promotion of liquefied petroleum gas.
Others are pineapple and cassava commercialisation, low cost irrigation, food fortification, education for all, control of communicable diseases and the setting up of NEPAD e-Schools.
However no single project under the ZNAP has been launched yet, she said, adding that a fully fledged secretariat has still to be established.
The coordinator of NEPAD’s capacity development initiative, Florence Nazare, described the ZNAP as “progressive”. NEPAD News, November 14, 2008
The NEPAD-Spanish Fund for the Empowerment of Women was discussed when NEPAD project manager Alinafe Kasiya met the Vice-President of Gambia, Dr. Isatou Njie-Saidy, in Banjul on 11 November 2008. Dr. Njie-Saidy is also Gambia’s Secretary of State for Women’s Affairs.
Alinafe Kasiya told her that NEPAD being a programme of the African Union had set up the NEPAD-Spanish Fund to provide resources for various projects in Africa, geared towards empowering women as well as promoting gender equality.
He noted that Gambia was one of the countries which had received a grant from the fund and that the Women’s Bureau in Gambia was implementing a project with this funding.
He said after the meeting that his discussion with the Vice-President centred on this project and its progress. "We also looked at possibilities and opportunities for future support in terms of where the project is moving, among others." NEPAD News, November 14, 2008
Smallholder farmers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Kenya that are engaged in agro-based initiatives now have more opportunities for accessing funds for their activities and the usual constraints they faced in finding working capital could be a thing of the past.
This is a result of flexible credit schemes being provided by the Equity Bank through credit guarantees from development partners in support of the implementation of NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
The bank was awarded 1 million Kenya shillings (US$ 14,000) by GTZ-Kenya as equity to guarantee credit of 40 million shillings (US$550,000) to SMEs and farmers to promote the use of environmentally friendly firewood stoves.
In a similar development the bank reached an agreement with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to mobilise resources of US$50 million to provide credit access to smallholder farmers, agricultural input dealers, processors and marketers of agricultural produce.
AGRA will provide the bank with 10% of the funds as a credit guarantee to ensure that farmers can still have access to finances in cases of unforeseen circumstances. NEPAD News, November 14, 2008
To stem huge foreign exchange outflows estimated at $800m due to rice importation and the attendant weakening of domestic production, over 300 participants, including six governors of producing states, are expected to converge on Abuja for the Nigeria Rice Investment Forum on November 24, 2008.
The executive secretary of the NEPAD Business Group-Nigeria, Sweet Giwa-Osagie, said the sub-theme of the meeting was “Increasing opportunities for production and processing of rice by small and medium enterprises.”
The forum, she said, was expected to bring together service providers, business development corporations, processors, farmers and state government officials to create opportunities that will lead to the setting up of rice production and processing projects in Nigeria and West Africa.
A vital objective was to increase the national and sub-regional rice production levels by the involvement of more private sector investments.
“The low competitiveness of the local industry has been attributed to poor access to inputs and output markets resulting from inadequate modern processing facilities and productivity-enhancing services targeted at the farm level.
“Besides limited private sector provision of services, another major constraint is the absence of irrigation, rural roads and the enabling environment needed to support intensive production in the rice producing states as well as those with the potential to produce.”
Giwa-Osagie said the focus of the forum was to demonstrate how public-private partnership could work in the rice sector to complement and support the achievement of the Nigerian Federal Government’s rice production target for 2008 and 2009.
She noted that the Ministries of Agriculture and Water Resources had announced a target of 2.8 million tonnes of paddy rice production in 2009 to 2011, adding that achieving the target would require the involvement of the private sector, with the public sector creating the enabling environment as a necessary stimulant.
Household consumption of par-boiled rice stood at five million tonnes per annum, amounting to an average consumption of 30kg per person in Nigeria and about the same in the West African sub-region.
A significant part of this consumption is imported from Asia, notably Thailand, India, Vietnam and China, as well as the United States and Europe, she added.
* The Abuja event, which is being organised by the NEPAD Business Group-Nigeria in partnership with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, the Presidency and representatives of the private sector and the relevant Government ministries and departments, will be officially opened by Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan. NEPAD News, November 14, 2008
Parliamentarians need to take urgent action in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to meet the imminent consequences of climate change. That is the conclusion of the SADC parliamentary dialogue on climate change, water and food security which concluded in Cape Town, South Africa on 30 October 2008.
In response to this call, parliamentarians from six African countries, joined by academia and experts, have identified recommendations for parliamentary action.
The objective of the seminar was to increase parliamentary action in Southern Africa related to climate change and food security based on the action plan of the Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa (AWEPA).
“Most legal instruments are merely gathering dust,” Barney Karuuombe of the SADC Parliamentary Forum pointed out at the opening session.
Seminar discussions focused on the need to review and revise legislation to better deal with the challenges of climate change and cover existing gaps.
“Parliamentarians are ideally placed to domesticate climate change and its effects at the national and local levels,” said Jane Olwach, a researcher at the University of Pretoria.
“The message needs to go out to the poor, as they are hardest hit by the changes. We must seek the involvement of the rural population”.
An expert group, including the Working for Water Programme, Water Aid and Climate Systems Analysis Group challenged parliamentarians to play a more significant role in tackling this global problem. Presentations were also made in plenary session by the African Union and NEPAD.
Among recommendations put forward was a call by the NEPAD Secretariat for the involvement of parliamentarians in the formulation of the African position for the UN climate conference to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009.
AWEPA and its partners were invited to send a delegation of parliamentarians to the preparatory meeting of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) in April 2009.
Giving a keynote address during the closing ceremony at the Cape Town dialogue, which was co-organised by AWEPA and the SADC Parliamentary Forum, the Speaker of Parliament in Malawi, Louis Chimango stressed : “Failure is not an option. We must succeed. Climate change is a matter of life and death and we need to take collective action”. NEPAD News, November 14, 2008
The challenges of climate change and the implementation of NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) were discussed when Ministers of Agriculture and Environment from countries in the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) met in Nairobi, Kenya, on 6-7 November 2008.
At the end of the meeting the Ministers took the following decisions on behalf of their member states of COMESA :
To implement programmes and activities that will mitigate the adverse effects of climate change ; To implement activities that enhance carbon storage capacity to reduce further emissions from African agricultural and forest ecosystems ; To see that early activities such as conservation farming and aforestation be implemented in the broader CAADP framework on climate change ; To encourage member states to hasten the CAADP through effective national roundtable processes and the signing of national compacts. The Ministers expressed their appreciation for the support which Norway, USA, UK, Sweden, WWF, Rockefeller Foundation, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and other development partners are providing in the implementation of CAADP.
The Nairobi meeting was a follow-up to the COMESA meeting of Ministers of Agriculture held in Victoria, Seychelles on the need for member states to work closely with the COMESA Secretariat and development partners in the implementation of the climate change initiative. NEPAD News, November 14, 2008