Tag: African Union

It’s time for African leaders to invest in agriculture


The African Union has declared 2014 the Year of Agriculture and Food Security, recognising that this is the issue of our time.

In January 2014, ONE and its partners launched the “Do Agric, It Pays” campaign at the AU Summit in Addis Ababa. Through this campaign we are asking African leaders to invest in our farmers, our food and our futures.

The 2003 Maputo Declaration was supposed to ensure that Africa could feed itself and that poverty was reduced through investment in agriculture. However, only eight countries have so far met their commitments by spending 10% of their national budgets on agriculture.

In sub-Saharan Africa, agriculture growth is 11 times more powerful in reducing poverty, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s director general, José Graziano da Silva. By investing in agriculture, we can lift hundreds of millions of Africans out of poverty, provide jobs and boost the continent’s economy by 2024.

We know that this is achievable, as Africa holds 60% of the remaining global arable land and so can potentially not only  feed itself but the rest of the world too. While smallholder farmers produce 80% of the continent’s food, it is ironic that this sector of the population also bears the brunt of rural poverty. Our governments can facilitate access to the resources that smallholders need to thrive by implementing smart targeted policies and public spending designed to benefit those who derive their livelihood from agriculture.

Improved irrigation, farming equipment, storage, market access, and women’s land rights would mean brighter futures for millions. Equally key to their success is access to credit, quality inputs and extension services and training. Public investment in agriculture – as in Europe, the United States, Brazil and China – not only allows for inclusive development as it promotes the development of the value chains but is also a catalyst for private investment and participation in the agriculture sector.

Farmers’ stories
Over the past months, ONE has been working with like-minded partners including farmers organisations and associations across the continent to mobilise and collect signatures from hundreds of thousands of African citizens who are demanding that their leaders step up to the Maputo challenge and “do agric”. We are therefore listening to what farmers are saying, and relaying their stories to governments across the continent.

Adam Yakubu, a cocoa farmer from Ghana, says that transportation has to improve. “You will harvest your product and it will stay at the roadside for a week. Sometimes the food perishes before it gets to the market. And when you get to the market, the pricing kills your soul,” he says.

“It’s not easy. You don’t get income daily, sometimes it’s a yearly affair. Sometimes you have to go on borrowing so [that even] before production begins you are already in debt.”

Maria, a sweet potato farmer from Tanzania, was able to receive training in soil irrigation, crop multiplication, and dividing vines. As a result, she has been able to grow orange sweet potatoes, which are high in vitamin A. “I work happily knowing I will be getting out of poverty by doing what I am doing. I am now a leader in my farming group and teach others what I have learnt,” she says.

In Benin, a high-level agriculture policy forum was organised by ONE and the Beninese National Platform of CSO Actors (PASCiB) in order to boost dialogue between government, farmers’ representatives, civil society organisations, donors and the private sector. This resulted in the Cotonou Consensus ,a policy strategy plan signed this year and already  implementing action to the identified national priorities according to the agreed action plan and timelines.Benin seeks to become an agriculture champion and the rest of Africa should too.

We’ve also launched one of Africa’s largest musical collaborations to date, Cocoa na Chocolate, featuring 19 of the continent’s top recording artists. D’Banj and Femi Kuti from Nigeria, DR Congo’s Fally Ipupa, Côte d’Ivoire’s Tiken Jah Fakoly, Kenya’s Juliani and Victoria Kimani, and South Africa’s Judith Sephuma, among others, have come together to help rebrand agriculture and tell African youth that their future lies beneath their feet and in their hands.

Their voices, in support of African agriculture, are sending a powerful message to the young generation: it’s time for African leaders to scale up public investments in agriculture and ensure policy interventions are targeted to benefit smallholder farmers.

Be part of ONE’s campaign to transform agriculture in Africa by signing the Do Agric petition.

Dr Sipho S. Moyo is Africa director for ONE.

African presidents, AU pay tribute to Mandela

The African Union mourned the passing of South Africa’s liberation leader Nelson Mandela on Friday, ordering its flags to fly at half mast as it praised a “pan-African icon”.

“Mandela has fought a good fight, and bowed out with great reverence,” said Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chair of the African Union Commission of the 54-member bloc.

“His passing on is a great loss to his family, to our continent and indeed to humanity itself,” Dlamini-Zuma added, herself a South African and the former wife of President Jacob Zuma.

Mandela died late Thursday aged 95.

“Madiba, as he was fondly known, symbolises the spirit of pan-Africanism and solidarity in the struggles of humanity against apartheid, oppression and colonialism and for self-determination, peace and reconciliation,” she added.

Nelson Mandela. (Pic: AFP)
Nelson Mandela. (Pic: AFP)

In Ghana, President John Dramani Mahama hailed Mandela as “a man of peace and tolerance” and “the man who sowed unifying peace in South Africa.

“Mandela was an icon, not only of hope, but also of the possibility for healing, Mahama said in a statement. “His utilisation of peace as a vehicle of liberation showed Africa that if we were to move beyond the divisiveness caused by colonisation, and the pain of our self-inflicted wounds, compassion and forgiveness must play a role in governance,” he added.

“The world has lost one of its greatest citizens,” Tanzanian President Kikwete said, calling Mandela “a voice of courage, a source of inspiration and a beloved leader to us all.” The East African nation has declared three days of mourning for the former South African leader.

Kenyan deputy president William Ruto said that with the death of Mandela, “the world has lost a moral example of selfless leadership”.

“The African continent is poorer without Madiba,” he told The Standard newspaper. “We are mourning a father to multiple generations of Africans. Madiba was a shining example that we should all emulate.”

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan said: “Mandela will always be remembered and honoured by all mankind as one of its greatest liberators, a wise, courageous and compassionate leader, and an icon of true democracy. Mandela’s death will create a huge vacuum that will be difficult to fill in our continent.” Jonathan also declared three days of national mourning for Mandela.

Senegal’s President Macky Sall said: “We have lost a giant, one of the greatest figures in contemporary Africa. No man of our time has given so much for the cause of his people, for Africa, and for the good of mankind. Nelson Mandela taught us courage, strength, forgiveness. He showed us that a human being could be better.”

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda said in a tweet: “Madiba, South Africa’s first post-apartheid president, passes on. But what is certain is he will continue to live in the hearts of many of us. Rest in peace.”

UPDATE:  Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe called Mandela the great icon of African liberation, freedom fighter, a beacon of excellence and a humble and compassionate leader. His delayed message of condolence was delivered on Saturday, raising speculation that Harare was reluctant to recognise Madiba’s legacy. Read more here.

– Mail & Guardian, Sapa