–BY CHARLES MPAKA
ADDIS ABABA, MARCH 25, 2013: Ten years ago, African Heads of State adopted the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), a framework that is intended to lead in the revolution of Africa’s agriculture sector through increased attention and investment.
CAADP came about on the realisation that agriculture would remain the centrepiece of Africa’s economic transformation and poverty eradication and on the background that the sector, once a high priority in the immediate post colonial period, was now suffering from dipping investments, hence increasing poverty on the continent.
Today, 10 years after Heads of State adopted the framework in Maputo, the 9th CAADP Partnership Platform meeting is under way in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and questions will be asked about what is there to show a decade later.
Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union Commission, Her Excellency Mrs Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, notes “significant strides” have been achieved thus far.
In her speech during the opening of the meeting, Rhoda Peace said CAADP has created space for participation of relevant sector players including those from the private sector and the profile of agriculture in the domestic and international politics and the attention to agriculture has also increased.
“CAADP is for example a model for the rest of the continents as a home-grown, country-led and stakeholder-inclusive agricultural transformation agenda,” she said in her speech.
The commissioner added that because of CAADP, many African countries now have specific agricultural policies and there is now improvement in donor coordination and tailoring to country priorities.
Addressing the press after the opening ceremony on Monday, Rhoda Peace said by 2007, four years after CAADP was adopted, only one country had signed the CAADP compact. To date, the number has leapt to over 30 since 2009, a clear testimony of how African countries are embracing the programme.
One of the countries that have made strides under CAADP guidelines is Ethiopia. The country’s State Minister Professor Tekalign Mamo said his country, for example, has made tremendous efforts and witnessed a strong economic performance since CAADP came on board and the country now plans to double its agricultural production by 2015.
“We have also assigned a high number of extension workers to the rural areas. We are currently doing soil fertility mapping in order to assist farmers what crops to grow where,” said Mamo, adding that the country is also invested in fetriliser manufacturing plants.
But there is no illusion at all as to what still needs to be done. Rhoda Peace said the challenges that characterised agriculture at the beginning of the last decade are still relevant today.
“This is a wake-up call to effectively utilise the current improved policy and political environment to facilitate change in Africa’s populations,” she said and urged African countries to draw lessons from the experiences of the last decade.
Rhoda Peace highlighted, among others, the increasing need for African countries to create jobs and economic opportunities for women and young people, often the vulnerable of the African society.
Responding to a question on low participation of youths in agriculture, Director of Programmes responsible for Implementation and Coordination at Nepad Planning and Coordination Agency, Esterine Fotabong, said the young people will remain central to agriculture development on the continent because of their large population and in the face of high unemployment rates.
She therefore urged governments to make agriculture attractive by making it a truly economic activity and creating roles in the value chain that creates jobs for young people.
Fotabong said agriculture cannot continue to be seen to be an activity for youth who were the dunce in school.
“Farming should be seen as an economic activity not only for the youths that are not smart in class. It should be an economic activity like any other economic activity,” she said.
In his statement read out to the meeting by Fotabong, Chief Executive for Nepad, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, said Africa needs to curb rural-urban migration, often a trend among young people, by creating jobs in the countryside through agriculture.
He also indicated that Africa is likely to achieve more stability if it grows its agriculture sector.
“Agriculture has a key role to play in bringing peace, not only because it is the primary activity in rural areas but also because it contributes to the maintenance of social equilibrium…Food insecurity and political crises nourish each,” he said.
He therefore urged for a new impetus to CAADP “to ensure that the legitimate expectations of key stakeholders are met”.
The 9th CAADP Partnership Platform meeting is being held under the theme: Sustaining the CAADP Momentum: From Decisions and Commitments to Implementation for Results and Impact.
Up to 500 delegates from within Africa and beyond are attending the meeting.