Hunger: Smallholder farmers want AU Heads of States summit to hear them out in June

 

 

22/5/2014

 

 

AU commitment to end hunger leaves smallholder farmers in cold

 ESAFF has hailed the historic new commitment by African Union to end hunger by the year 2025 but strongly warned that such a cause cannot succeed without the full involvement of small farmers that by and large feeds the continent.

Speaking about the AU resolution, which was passed by council of ministers early this year, the Eastern & Southern Africa Farmers' Forum (ESAFF) Chairman, Mr. Moses Shaha (Kenya) said it was sad that the document did not actively recognize smallholder farmers as the engine for agricultural growth and transformation in Africa.

Despite the commitment being hailed as historic by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva and many international organization, smallholder farmers’ representatives, indicated they have been left out in crafting of the document that makes a strong pledge to eliminate hunger.

Mr. Shaha said  Non State Actors must continue fighting hard for the rights of smallholder farmers and present a position to the  AU Heads of States summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in June 2014.

“I am worried that this resolution is muted on the role of small scale farmers and farmer organizations in the transformation process; however, we will continue to engage in all policy processes to ensure our voices are heard especially at national and regional  levels”

Mr. Shaha also added that the resolution with seven goals lacks specific mentioning in some areas like doubling the current level of annual growth in agriculture total factor productivity (ATFP), on accelerating intra and inter regional trade and on resilience building and risk management.

He encouraged Non State Actors in sustaining the momentum for advocating the allocation and increasing the percentage of national annual budget to agriculture in line with the 10% minimum commitment and put in place measures to ensure effectiveness of the investment.

 The ESAFF chairman was also concerned that the resolution was silent on the roles that can be played by Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in accelerating agricultural growth and transformation especially on the institutionalization of peer review. He said “RECs can hold each other accountable and encourages good performance on commitments and periodic recognition of exemplary performance”.

Mr. Shaha commended the Non State Actors led by Action Aid, Oxfam International, PAFO and One Campaign in generating interest and public debate on ‘The Agriculture We Want’ since January 2014. The non state actors are preparing to present their positions during the next AU Heads of States summit in June.

 

 

The commitment to end hunger in the next two decades is part of the AU joint conference of ministers of agriculture, rural development, fisheries and aquaculture that was held in Addis Ababa Ethiopia.

The resolution also commits African countries to develop and operationalize social protection packages and agro entrepreneurship programs that target rural women and the youth.

On the usage of genetically modified organism (GMOs) to end hunger, the resolution says Africa will consider the development of its position on GMOs and capacity for Africa to take advantages of the opportunities. The AU Commission and NEPAD in collaboration with African relevant scientific institutions were requested to undertake a study to explore the possibility to develop an African position on GMOs with a view to take advantage of opportunities that may represent.

 

The meeting of Ministers and None State Actors took place between 1st and 2nd May, 2014 which also included Farmer Organizations, Civil Society Organizations and the Private Sector representatives.

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