Farmers to SADC Heads of State: to end cycle of hunger for good, here is the way
By ESAFF Correspondent
Is it possible to end they cycle of hunger in Southern African Development Community(SADC) and it’s Member States?
A broad based civil society coalition in a letter to the Heads of State in the region believe that a road map has already been drown, and what is needed at the moment is the political will from the top.
According to the coalition to end the cycle of hunger and offer food security assurance for the long term, implementation of the approved Regional Agricultural Investment Plan (RAIP) is an urgent necessity.
While the document has been approved by SADC agriculture ministers the Southern Africa Food and Climate Justice Coalition wants the 36th SADC Heads of State Summit to seize the moment and build on the ground work made.
The civil society wants the Heads of State to ensure urgent implementation of the plan which would make a resilient and food-secure Southern Africa for the long haul a reality.
The coalition wants RAIP implementation to be done in a way that will ensure investments respond to the needs of smallholder farmers especially women and youth.
The coalition made up of small scale farmers, churches, rural women and mediaorganisations in Southern Africa, noted the current drought cycle has become recurrent:
“The current drought – although particularly severe – is not a one-off. As climate change takes grip, the cyclical El Nino phenomenon is becoming more frequent and more intense – affecting our same communities in Southern Africa again and again,” they wrote.
While acknowledging high-level political leadership in responding to the drought and the food crisis which culminated in to a regional declaration of emergency and subsequent appeal to close the funding gap in Southern Africa, the coalition called for improved dealing with “climate induced disasters.”
“We know that early action prevents suffering, is significantly more cost effective, and prevents reversals in development gains,” they noted.
The civil society said long term solution to the crisis needs building of the resilience of small-scale agriculture.“The region will continue to be badly hit by these crises, unless governments are serious about investing in smallholder agriculture, and respecting the Malabo Declaration,” the Heads of State were told.
The coalition called on stakeholders to be involved in drafting the rules and regulations for operationalization of the investment plan. They also called on timelines to be set for nation to allocate 10% of national budgets to agriculture as stipulated in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
The letter was signed by Southern African Development CommunityCouncil of Non-Governmental Organisations, Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmer’s Forum,
Rural Women’s Assembly, OXFAM, Fellowship of Christian Churches in Southern Africa (EJN of FOCCISA)
Specific actions civil society wants SADC to take
- Re-affirm, at the highest level, the commitment of the region to achieving the Malabo Declaration.
- Move urgently to implement the Regional Agricultural Investment Plan (RAIP), and speed up the development of National Agricultural Investment Plans (NAIPs). Set timelines to allocate 10% of national budgets to agriculture.
- Enable the full participation of smallholders – especially women and youth – in implementation and monitoring. We commend the participatory nature of the development of the RAIP, and expect this will be extended to drafting the rules and regulations – the final step to operationalize the RAIP.
- Ensure not just the quantity but also the quality of investment, by targeting funds at the needs of smallholders – especially women and youth. We believe that government budget allocations are not currently benefiting poor rural women farmers, and that Farmer Input Subsidy Programmes in particular should be reformed with this in mind.
- Facilitate the transformation to climate-resilient agriculture, by supporting the diversification of agricultural production, and dedicating funds to enable smallholder farmers, especially women, to adapt in a changing climate.
- Acknowledge the central role of women in agriculture, and implement measures to ensure women’s access, control and ownership of land and key productive resources.