ESAFF can speed up regional agriculture protocol implementations - SADC





The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), is ready to partner with small scale farmers to speed up agriculture policies implementation in the Eastern and Southern Africa region. The Directorate of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources directorate (FANR) will assists in availing necessary information regarding SADC member states signed protocols to ESAFF members.

Speaking in a brief encounter between farmer leaders of the Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers (ESAFF) in Gaborone recently, the Acting Director of FANR, Mr. Bentry Chaula said it is high time for small scale farmers to partner with SADC in the push for implementation of many policies aimed at ensuring food security and agriculture development in the region.

He said that many policies are adopted and African Union (AU) and SADC level but needed a push to ensure there is enough adherence and adequate implementation at country level. “SADC Secretariat is not an implementer of these agreements but member countries are the one that are obliged to implement these agreements... and organised small scale farmers have the opportunity to hold governments into account to ensure timely and effective implementation”.

Small scale farmers had mini caravans organised to visit regional economic communities: COMESA (Zambia) and SADC (Botswana) to share and exchange experience on various issues affecting agriculture development in the region.

Speaking at the same meeting, small scale farmer leaders said they are now struggling to organise themselves to influence policies from grassroots to districts and national levels. The most important areas is to ensure that small scale farmers’ needs and aspirations reflected in policy processes including the agriculture budget “ we have been doing agriculture budgeting campaigns (ABC) in our national levels while strengthening our organisations” said Elizabeth Mpofu a  farmer and chairperson of ESAFF. She added that nothing can be achieved without passionate people while nothing can be sustainable without strong institutions in which ESAFF invests in role model leaders and in a strong national ESAFF chapters.

The meeting was attended by high level officials of FANR led by its Acting Director Mr. Bentry Chaula, Mr. Duncun Samikwa, Mr. Patrick Tawonezvi,  Mr. Beedeeanan Hulman, Mr. Misheck Mulumba among others.

The overall objective of the FANR Directorate is to develop, promote, coordinate and facilitate harmonisation of policies and programs meant o increase agricultural and natural resources productivity and to promote trade, ensure food security and sustainable economic development in the region. The region also is on the process to introduce the regional agriculture policy which is at the higher level of its making.

 Among the major concerns by farmers were on small scale farmers getting rightful information to enable them to do the lobbying and advocacy, seed security, access to and utilisation of land. Other concern was on the measures set aside against GMOs introduction and its threat to seed security, trade (Economic Partnership Agreements between EU an Africa) threat to small producers, poor inadequate investment to agriculture- 10% budget allocation.

Speaking after the meeting with SADC a farmer leaders from Kenya, Moses Shaha says it was worth travelling by road over 3000 Kilometres from Lusaka to Gaborone to meet policy makers within SADC “It was a professional meeting and we have gained a lot. We as ESAFF should be much equipped with information and should use the available lobbying opportunities at country level and at both COMESA and SADC... next step for lobbying and engagements should be at the AU level in Addis Ababa”    

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