Charles Abugre Akelyira, regional director of the UN Millennium Campaign, wants African governments to invest more in agriculture to be able to feed two billion mouths in 2050
THE world, especially African countries need to invest more in agriculture to be able to feed two billion mouths in 2050. “Nearly 240 million Africans are malnourished and although only one-third of those who face hunger are based in Africa, the percentage of people who suffer from hunger there is higher than in any other region of the world,” stated Charles Abugre Akelyira, Africa regional director of the UN Millennium campaign, based in Nairobi. “We must invest in agriculture not just to feed the current generation but to prepare for the two billion more mouths we will need to feed by 2050. In particular, we have to invest in small-scale agriculture, as part of our mixed strategy. Two-thirds of our farm outputs come from small farmers,” Akelyira said.
Akelyira was the keynote speaker at the recent two-day conference entitled A Decade of CAADP: Reflections on Key Outcomes of Agricultural Policy Reforms in Africa. The conference, which held in Nairobi, Kenya, from November 12 to 13 was sponsored by TrustAfrica in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Its purpose was to raise awareness about the role of agriculture in development and to give voice to those most affected by agricultural development policies, particularly smallholder farmers.
Participants from six African countries—Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Nigeria—came together to reflect on the work they have done under TrustAfrica’s Agricultural Reform project. The advocacy project, begun in 2010, seeks to raise awareness among smallholder farmers about the promises made under the Maputo Declaration Target, which, in part, states that African governments will dedicate 10 percent of their budgets to pro-poor agricultural policies. The aim is to have farmers hold their governments accountable for the budgets they have been promised. So far, TrustAfrica has assisted 21 organisations over the three years the program has been in operation. It has donated approximately $955,629 in grants on behalf of the Gates Foundation.
During the conference, panelists reflected on the performance of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program, CAADP, since its inception 10 years ago. There was an agreement that more education needs to be done to create greater awareness around the issues facing smallholder farmers on the part of CAADP. “We have their blessing, but not their drive,” one participant stated. “There should be sector-wide reviews involving all stakeholders,” stated another.
“This has been an important opportunity for stakeholders working with the smallholder farming sector to gather together their impressions, lessons learned and ideas around the issues related to the CADDP and improving the lives of smallholder farmers,” said Tendai Murisa, TrustAfrica acting programme director,
“However, when it comes to the issues that concern these stakeholders, there is still work to be done. We are excited about the fact that the African Union, AU, has decided to declare 2014 the year of agriculture and food security. However, we are concerned that African governments have not increased their allocations to agriculture. There is an urgent need to realign the policies and resources of governments so that they better reflect the already existing consensus that in Africa, agriculture has the potential to be the engine that can drive inclusive growth and development.”
Participants took time during the conference to share lessons learned and strategies for their continued advocacy work. Topics included the role of research and extension work, resource mobilisation strategies, and trends and innovations surrounding policy work. In the evening, participants also took part in a marketplace exposition that allowed civil society organisations to share some of the results of their efforts.
TrustAfrica is a public foundation that seeks to secure conditions for democratic governance, equitable development and African philanthropy across the African continent. Led by Africans, TrustAfrica organises meetings, catalyzes ideas, and provides grants and technical assistance to organisations working to advance these goals.
— Dec. 2, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT