ESAFF towards strengthening small scale farmers visibility and voices in the regional bodies; COMESA, SADC and EAC …
Mai Elizabeth Mpofu the chair lady of ESAFF recently visited the Southern Africa Development Community – SADC in Gaborone, Botswana. In her tour of duty to familiarize with the regional grouping, the ESAFF chairlady also visited farmer groups in Lesotho and South Africa.
In the Botswana capital, Mai Mpofu met the SADC officers responsible for Agriculture, Rural Development and Food security. “My visit was very fruitful and I have learnt a lot… staff at SADC were very cooperative and I had fruitful discussion” says the ESAFF chairlady.
In Lesotho Mai Mpofu visited and spoke to small holder farmers in Mafeteng Areas. Her host Mamalefetsane Phakoe was pleased to say that the visit was a step towards strengthening the voice of small scale farmers in the SADC body. She added that “unless farmers know each other, it will be difficult to speak in one voice”
In another development, Mr. Elias Kawea who is a farmer leader in Tanzania and a Board member of ESAFF and the Association of Small Scale Farmer Groups in Tanzania – MVIWATA, visited the East Africa Community (EAC) Head Quarters in Arusha, north of Tanzania. The visit was meant to familiarize the farmers with the EAC modus operandi and modus vivendi. Specifically ESAFF is looking ahead to strengthening visibility and voices of smallholder farmers in the process of policy and decision making in the EAC. Towards that end, ESAFF in the near future will be looking to apply for an observer status to the EAC and other regional bodies.
While in Arusha, ESAFF leader sought an audience with the Coordinator of the East Africa Civil Society Forum – EACSOF- Ms. Joyce Abalo. ESAFF will be looking ahead to become full member of EACSOF. EACSOF is the forum that brings all CSOs in the East Africa Community who needs to engage with the community. EAC member countries include; Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. In March the EACSOF convened a meeting of CSOs from all EAC member countries. At the meeting it was agreed that there is a need to strengthen CSOs engagement with the Community and that EACSOF should become the coordinating platform.
During the EACSOF annual meeting that was held in Arusha Tanzania, members elected Prof. Haroub Othman to be the President of the Forum. EACSOF is still hosted by the East African Law Society (EALS).
During his visit Mr. Kawea also met Madame Perpeteur Miganda who is the EAC officer responsible for Gender and Civil Society. Ms. Miganda said that CSOs have a special role to play in the East Africa Community. She said that CSOs can apply for special observer status if wishes to so after meeting minimum criteria set within the EAC charter.
Other farmer leaders, Moses Shaha (Kenya) and Mubanga Kasakula (Zambia) visited small scale farmers’ organizations in Eastern and Central African countries for the purpose of enhancing farmer to farmer partnership. Mr. Shaha who is the chairperson of Kenya Small Scale farmers visited Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi while Mr. Kawea a farmer leaders from Zambia visited small scale farmers in Malawi.