By Erick Foadey
1/11/2011, Pretoria - A Seminar jointly hosted by the South African Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency), and the United Nations Food and Agriculture organization (FAO) on the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) took place at the Innovations Hub in Pretoria on 20 October, 2011.
The aim of the Seminar was to pave the way for South Africa’s involvement in the CAADP process and to develop a common and clear understanding of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries sector development strategies so as to facilitate actions geared at supporting and strengthening CAADP implementation in South Africa.
The Seminar was officially opened by the Acting Deputy Director-General of DAFF, Ms. Sue Middleton, followed by a goodwill message from the FAO Representative from Rome, Mr. Weldeghaber Kidane and introductory remarks by Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of NEPAD Agency.
In their messages, the speakers emphasised the need to identify a clear set of actions for CAADP value addition to accelerate South Africa’s agriculture development, especially alongside the country food security and poverty alleviation objectives and strategies.
In his keynote address, Mr Sipho Ntombela, the Acting Director-General DAFF recalled South Africa’s leading role in drafting the CAADP document. He explained the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) and how it fits into CAADP’s objectives and main pillars.
According to Dr Mayaki, the Seminar was “historic and memorable” because it was “a culmination of several engagements with DAFF and DIRCO geared to support the South African government to mainstream CASP in the implementation of CAADP’’. He went on by stating that “CAADP is not parallel to SA agriculture development strategy, CASP, but rather to be mainstreamed in existing strategy’’.
After setting the tone of the conference, it was the task of the participants to identify, among others, the alignment of priorities, to define the SADC role in advocating CAADP, identify growth opportunities, policy and institutional gaps, as well as market access for agriculture products.
In the process prior to the compact signature by South Africa, the participants agreed that the “country ownership, leadership and stakeholder involvement are key in the CAADP process”.
During the Seminar, participants also agreed that “partnerships are extremely important’’ and highlighted the need to open the process to non-state actors: NGO’s, civil society, farmers’ organisations, the private sector and academia.
In her closing remarks, Ms Middleton, acknowledged the need to ‘’set up a national CAADP task team in line with the Integrated Growth Development Programme (IGDP) of South Africa’’. She emphasised that “South Africa has to draw from lessons learnt from other countries that have already implemented CAADP’’. She added that “CAADP is about transformation and not about process-oriented thinking’’ and called on all stakeholders to work together towards South Africa’s CAADP compact signing by mid-2012.