Small scale farmers launch the “INVEST IN US” Budget Kilimo Campaign in the EAC Region
Small scale farmers from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda with support from fellow farmers from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Madagascar, Seychelles, Mozambique, Swaziland, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo and Lesotho under the umbrella of Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF) have called upon African governments to uphold the Malabo ambition of involving small holder farmers, women and youth in development processes and inclusive participation in decision making processes in way of joint sector mutual accountability reviews. Speaking at the launch of the Invest in Us Budget Kilimo Campaign in Dar es Salaam, EAC Regional Chair Mr Alfayo Kurunah from Kenya implored governments to uphold the tenets of the Malabo Declaration of June 2014. “We would like to call upon the African Union to involve the Small scale farmers in the design and agreements on the new operational framework for the Malabo Declaration. We want to be part of the process to develop joint indicators and milestones at all levels,” said Mr Kurunah. The Budget Kilimo Campaign is a process of raising voices on farmer satisfaction of farmer satisfaction with government agricultural financing in relation to CAADP
The farmers were meeting at the ESAFF EAC Regional Training Workshop on Agriculture Policy Advocacy running under the theme “Calling for Meaningful Participation of Smallholder Farmers in Policy Processes and Quality Government Investment into Agriculture Sector” at Peacock Hotel in Dar es Salam, Tanzania. The small scale farmers noted that while they recognise and congratulate the African Union for incorporating their by transforming them into stakeholders of the Malabo Declaration of ending hunger and halving poverty in Africa by the year 2025, they want to be recognised as active players in agribusiness and national development.
The farmers also called upon national governments to increase the quantity and quality of public spending in agriculture with an increase in real per capita investment as exemplified in the difference between Uganda and Tanzania in 2011 where Uganda invested $6 per annum with a 1.4% agricultural sectoral growth whereas Tanzania invested $18 achieving 4.1%. Rwanda which invested $43 per capita had higher agricultural sector growth. This demonstrates that an increase in per capita public investment in agriculture contributes to increase agricultural sector growth and thus to lift the lives of the small scale farmers out of poverty. Mr Kurunah explicitly asked governments to honour the CAADP and Malabo Declaration commitments and invest at least 10% of national budgets to the agricultural sector.
“We wish to be part of this inclusive transformation agenda. Regarding the concrete utilization of the funds allocated to agricultural sector, we ask the Governments to prioritize small scale farmers, who are the majority of African citizens and are much more able than large-scale farming and agribusiness to contribute to African economic growth, generation of employment and incomes, food security and sustainability of agriculture. The concrete priorities of the small-scale farmers should be sought through participatory budgeting and financing processes,” said Mr Kurunah to much applause.
Mrs Elizabeth Mpofu from Zimbabwe called upon governments to be mutually accountable to the small scale farmers and to put in place mechanisms for effective resource distribution and monitoring. “We wish to see more transparent and responsive governments. We call upon government to reduce wastage of resources and the eradication of corruption,” said Mrs Mpofu.
ESAFF Chairperson Mr. Serge Benstrong demanded that national governments avail factual budget information on time and in user friendly formats to communities and that implementation be tagged against the budgeted and prioritized issues of small scale farmers. “Governments must allow small scale farmers to be active players in the value chain and not just recipients or consumers of agribusiness products,” said Mr Benstrong. Governments were also called upon to develop value chains which benefit the majority of small scale farmers and to see them as active players and investors who should benefit from an enabling policy environment. The call to governments comes on the backdrop of a research report by Professor Damian Gamagambi of Sokoine University of Agriculture that shows that the EAC is the largest regional economic bloc in African with a total population of 145 million and GDP of USD 98 billion; a quarter of which is contributed by agriculture.
Governments were also reminded that policies should prioritize small-scale farmers by eliminating non trade barriers to cross border trade and the harmonization of phyto-sanitary regulations within the EAC region to ensure free trade between farmers across the borders. Governments were encouraged “to first trust and invest in their own population, and specifically the small-scale farmers, for addressing the actual economic, social and environmental challenges facing the continent before turning support to external investors. We intend to see that per capita investment in the small scale farmer is increase,” said Mr Kurunah. He concluded by noting that farmers will ensure that resources allocated are not wasted in corrupt and irrelevant initiatives as they seek to promote enterprises that put the small scale farmer at the forefront of development. Mr Kurunah ended by quoting Mahatma Ghandi’s statement that says“Whatever you do for me without me is not for me” sending a clear message to African governments.
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