SADC regional agriculture policy making process: Small scale farmers seek meaningful participation





Johannesburg: The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) has been asked to ensure that small scale farmers are involved in the regional agriculture policy (RAP) making processes before it is adopted.


The move will ensure smooth future implementation contrary to many regional policies that are rarely known by the people, policy makers and the media. The call was made by a small scale farmer leader, Flora Maswanganyi from Limpopo, South Africa during the meeting convened by SADC RAP team with the support of World Bank to discuss the new regional policy.

Ms. Maswanganyi and Joe Mzinga both representing ESAFF at the meeting, called for the wider small scale farmers consultation on the draft policy before its adoption. Their call was positively received by the head of the SADC Food Agriculture and natural Resources (FANR) Ms. Margareth Nyirenda and the SADC RAP Coordinator, Mr. Martin Muchero and his team. This is important because the majority stakeholders of agriculture in the region are small scale farmers and their participation will increase interest hence will hold national leader accountable had the policy fail to deliver, says Ms Maswanganyi and Mr. Mzinga.  They added that, meaningful participation of small scale farmers will ensure that their wishes in the policies will be included. 


The meeting was to provide input to the draft regional agriculture policy. ESAFF being the sole small scale farmers organisation invited called for the wider small scale farmers’ consultation on the draft policy before its adoption.


To emphasise the importance of the call, ESAFF officially wrote to the SADC RAP to request for a roundtable discussions with farmers on the draft policy while in May 2013, ESAFF Secretariat submitted a position papers on the draft policy focusing on the major areas as follows;


In another development, ESAFF secretariat has submitted a preliminary position on the new Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) regional Agriculture policy (SADC-RAP). The SADC Regional Agricultural Policy (SADC - RAP) with the objective " define common agreed objectives and measures to guide, promote and support actions at regional and national levels in the agricultural sector of the SADC Member States in support of regional integration and in contribution to the attainment of the SADC Common Agenda".

ESAFF noted this is the noble process to harmonise agriculture policies and practises to eliminate hunger and poverty in the region.

2013, ESAFF Secretariat submitted a position papers on the draft policy focusing on the major areas as follows;

ESAFF commends that the Draft SADC RAP recognise that the majority of the people live in rural areas mainly as smallholder farmers and rely on agriculture for their livelihood and that, as rural population is likely to remain high over the next decades, the sector will remain a critical employer. However, ESAFF have noted with concern that small scale farmers are not adequately accorded space to contribute to the process of making the SADC RAP. Small scale farmers play a key role for the successful implementation of this policy, hence should be made aware and participate in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of this SADC RAP

ESAFF was invited to an important key stakeholder’s workshop on the SADC Regional Agriculture Policy (SADC RAP) in Johannesburg. At the workshop ESAFF noted that the contribution of small scale farmers in the whole policy making process was very limited. Following the importance of the successful implementation of SADC RAP to depend very much on the fully and meaningful participation of the majority small scale farmers, fisher folks and livestock keepers in the SADC region, ESAFF has already requested for a roundtable discussion between the SADC RAP Team lead by you with small scale farmer leaders and NGOs working with farmers in SADC countries. The main objective is to ESAFF perspectives on the draft SADC Regional Agriculture Policy (SADC RAP). The roundtable will be convened in due course.


With regards to the contributions ESAFF made to the SADC RAP processes, ESAFF highlighted that as forum, it would like the preamble to provide a summary of success and failure of the implementation of the previous major policies in agriculture and these policies include the RISDP of 2003 and the Dar es salaam Declaration of Food Security and Rural Development (this will provide a empirical lessons to be taken into consideration within the new SADC RAP such as 10% national budgets allocation to agriculture which has been a disappointment for many small scale farmers in the region).


Access to land utilization is vital for empowerment of small scale farmers thus the RAP policy should stated that the  SADC shall facilitate, coordinate and support initiatives to improve land administration, use and management in particular smallholders farmers access, utilisation and control of land.


ESAFF also inquired about the SADC complementing national interventions by promoting and supporting measures to improve farmer access to improved plant and animal genetic material. ESAFF cautioned the RAP language towards adoption of genetic engineered biotechnology in crop and livestock development. ESAFF stands against GMOs due to uncertainty on health, environment, loss of biodiversity and monopolisation of seeds by agrichemical multinational companies.


ESAFF further called on the regional body to prioritize availability of energy for irrigation as well as small and medium agro processing industries in rural areas. The forum called on SADC to promote innovation and small scale farmers demand-driven Agriculture R&D;


On gender the policy should recognise the role played by senior citizens in promoting food security and preservation of indigenous knowledge. The policy interventions would encourage member states to introduce social security schemes for would be senior citizens in the agriculture sectors.


Finally ESAFF recommended that in the National Technical Consultative Committees (NTCCs) to include the participation of Small scale farmers (or Small Scale Farmer Organisations). With this in mind ESAFF believes that the voice of the small scale farmers will have been heard in policy making processes at SADC regional level.


The Eastern and Southern Africa small scale Farmers’ Forum – ESAFF, is a network of small holder farmers that work on ecological sustainable agriculture.  ESAFF advocate for policy, practice and attitude transformation that reflects the needs, aspirations, and development of small-scale farmers in eastern and southern Africa. It was established in 2002 after the World Summit of Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg in South Africa. ESAFF is registered in the United Republic of Tanzania. To-date ESAFF operates in 13 countries: Tanzania - MVIWATA; Kenya - KESSF, ESAFF- Uganda, ESAFF Zambia,  Zimbabwe (ZIMSOFF), ESAFF Lesotho; ESAFF South Africa; Malawi (NASFAM); Rwanda (APPPE); ESAFF Burundi; Madagascar (CPM), Mozambique (ROSA) and Seychelles (SeyFA).


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