Putting small scale farmers first: from rhetoric to action

ACORD is co-hosting 'From Rhetoric to Action - Towards a transformed agriculture and a food secured Africa' in Addis Ababa at the African Union Summit side events

"CAADP can be the vehicle to harness the potential of small-scale farming to end poverty and achieve food sovereignty, African governments must put small scale farmers first" Fatou Mbaye, ACORD Livelihoods Thematic Manager and sustainable agriculture expert.

Download the newly released ACORD report on National Agricultural Investment Plans in 5 African countries
Read the Joint Policy Recommendations of ACORD, Oxfam, ActionAid, ONE and PAFO: in the face of the current agriculture investment situation, African Farmers alongside civil society call on the government to ensure the following as they discus on the focus of Agriculture and Food Security in 2014
Watch our documentary Achieving food security in Africa
Watch our CAADP TV Spot to raise awareness on CAADP among African small scale farmers

African Union Year of Agriculture and Food Security
During the 22nd African Union Summit in Addis Ababa this week, ACORD International has joined forces with ONE, Action Aid and the Pan African Farmers Organization (PAFO) to host a forum “From Rhetoric to Action: Towards a Transformed Agriculture and a Food Secure Africa” in support of the 2014 African Union Year of Agriculture and Food Security.

The forum, which will be held on January 28 and 29, provides opportunities for government representatives to agree, alongside smallholder farmers and other stakeholders, on a transformative deal that will reinvigorate Africa’s agriculture sector through robust support for policies in line with the objectives and vision of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP).

At the same time, ACORD is releasing a landmark report “Putting small-scale farming first: Improving the National Agriculture Investment Plans of Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania.” This report analyses the National Agriculture Investment Plans (NAIPs) of five countries - Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Burkina Faso – and assesses the extent to which they are likely to benefit smallholder farmers. The NAIPs are the flagship strategies of governments, outlining how they will support the agriculture sector in the coming years, and include ambitious spending plans. If the NAIPs are to transform agriculture, they must focus on the people who do most of the farming – smallholder farmers, who are usually defined as those with less than 2 hectares of land. Yet smallholders have often been neglected in government policy, despite comprising the majority of Africa’s population. In addition to low spending on agriculture in many countries, much spending has insufficiently prioritised the needs of smallholder farmers.

The report’s analysis is that the NAIPs of these five countries show a significant commitment to the agricultural sector. However, this commitment is not matched by sufficient recognition of the importance of smallholder farming to reducing poverty reduction and promoting food security. The analysis assesses several positive features of the NAIPs before focusing on five clear policy failings – these are specific, key areas for governments to address and improve. If not adequately addressed, the NAIPs will likely fail in their potential to promote agriculture-led development and the livelihoods of smallholders in these countries and elsewhere in Africa.

In 2003, African leaders under the auspices of the African Union made a commitment in Maputo, Mozambique to increase levels of investment in the agriculture sector to 10 percent of national budgets driving agriculture growth, reducing poverty, and improving food security. The commitment also embraced the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) initiative, the CAADP with its similar objectives. They also agreed to achieve a 6 percent growth in gross domestic product. This commitment came after decades of underinvestment in agriculture by donors and governments alike.

Since that time, a few countries, Ethiopia, Mali, and Niger in particular, have succeeded in increasing their investments in agriculture, resulting in high rates of growth, reduced poverty and hunger. In the decade since the 2003 Maputo Declaration, 10 of the 54 African Union member states have succeeded in reaching the 10 percent budget allocation target, while 10 countries have exceeded the 6 percent growth rate target.

The objectives of the forum include:
- Discussing issues and prospects for improving agriculture performance on the continent as a way of creating jobs and increasing economic opportunities for Africans and ending food insecurity on the continent.
- Presenting common policy messages on investment mix that enables quality investment in agriculture that ensures success in the small-scale agriculture sector.
- Launching a petition calling for transformative agriculture agenda building on and Sustaining the CAADP momentum
- Identifying opportunities and responsibilities for various stakeholders in spearheading the success of the CAADP momentum and ending hunger in Africa by 2024.
- Getting African leaders to recommit to the CAADP agenda with a focus on smallholder farmers.

Representatives from government, farmer’s organisations, private sector organisations, CSOs and a celebrity partner will speak to these recommendations and their specific roles in driving agriculture success in the next decade in Africa. ACORD Executive Director, Mr. Ousainou Ngum, is scheduled to speak at the official opening of the forum.

According to the FAO, agriculture is 11 times more effective in reducing poverty than other types of investments. Additionally, smallholder farmers who represent 65% of Africa’s population and provide 80% of the continent’s food are capable of producing two to 10 times more food per unit of land than larger producers and thus have the capacity for greater productivity.

  • african union
  • agriculture
  • burkina faso
  • burundi
  • caadp
  • ethiopia
  • food security
  • food sovereignty
  • pastoralism
  • rwanda
  • tanzania