WORKING FOR AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN CWAR
By James Achanyi- Fontem, firstname.lastname@example.org
The issue of AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT focused on agriculture landscape in sub-Saharan Africa, rural Community and development, local sourcing, benefits and challenges with the role of government, private sectors and civil society. These issues were well rooted in the presentation made by Dr. Dorothy A. Effa(PhD) who is the Director in charge of Policy Planning Monitoring and Evaluation at the Ghanaian Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
Common characteristics of Agriculture Landscape in Sub Saharan Africa, Dorothy A. Effa(PhD) said, shows that agriculture employs more than half of the total labour force according to a report the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2012.
Smallholder farms constitute approximately 80% of all farms in sub Saharan Africa and employ about 175 million people directly farming-less than 2 hectares according to AGRA report in 2014. AGRICULTURE and RURAL DEVELOPMENT is mostly rain fed with joint and extended family farms, while livestock remains a key asset for the poorest, particularly in arid and semi-arid settings.
On agriculture contribution to GDP, it is on the average 15% of total GDP,3 % in Botswana and South Africa and more than 50% in Chad for example. It is noted that the high contribution of the agricultural sector to GDP underlines the limited diversification of most African economies.
Agriculture production and productivity in Sub Saharan Africa remains significantly lower than the global average. Agricultural growth has been underpinned by area expansion and African governments have increased their investment in agriculture and are involving the private sector.
With this, the structure of agriculture production in sub Saharan Africa has radically changed in the last two decades and traditional farming systems are inevitably changing from polycultures to monocultures as many technical and institutional factors drive these changes.
The Challenges of Agric. Production include low yields, inadequate market information, unavailability of inputs on a timely basis or in the quantity required. There is also the lack of credit, risk management and price formation mechanisms. Seasonality of agricultural input requirements, spatial dispersion of farmers, poor transport infrastructure from farm to the marketing, institutional capacity for research and extension is weak as the weak farmers’ associations.
To face these challenges, the different countries have to positive agricultural policies within the current global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Since the 2003 Maputo Declaration, less than 20% of the countries have achieved their commitment. The Malabo Declaration of 2014 came to accelerate agricultural growth with the pledged to end hunger in Africa by 2025.
In order for the Central and West Africa sub regions to achieve the SDGs, agriculture and rural development must be prioritized.
According to the UN definition, rural development is a process of change, by which the efforts of the people themselves are united, those of government authorities to improve their economic, social and cultural conditions of communities in to the life of the nation and to enable them to contribute fully to national programs are a reality.
Rural development is a strategy designed to improve the economic and social life of rural poor and
it is a process, which aims at improving the wellbeing and self-realization of people living outside the urbanized areas through collective process.
This builds on infrastructures, public service and communication to improve on the health, education and living conditions of the population.in order to generate employment through farming, storage and economic activities.
Scientifically, it is believed that local sourcing can reduce poverty and improve food safety and security, where companies are offering their suppliers long-term contracts, competitive prices, and access to information, as well as investing in improving the livelihoods of the poor in developing countries
Outsourcing relationships need to consider the economic, environmental and social effects in order to be sustainable. Company/contractor agreements must be reviewed in order to ensure that social responsibility aspects are appropriately managed. and rural-urban migration on the ascendancy, local sourcing can be used as a way to address high unemployment rate as well as generate total economic growth.
Nestle sourced 70% of raw materials locally from the region in 2015 and has plans to increase.
Sourcing of raw materials sh0uld comply with responsible Sourcing guideline (RSG) criteria, with traceability and transparency throughout the supply chains. The challenges facing the sub region however include inability to supply quantity and quality, build the capacity and invest in research.
The national governments are called upon to put in place the public infrastructure necessary for the efficient operation of the private sector, enacting and enforcing rules and regulations that create safe and predictable environment for private investors, establishing a regulatory role in land tenure, ensuring through land registration and enforceable contracts that land ownership is secure, establishing viable financing opportunities for agricultural enterprises and good governance and transparent public administration, macroeconomic discipline and stability, and political stability.
The national governments should provide favourable incentive framework which provides farmers and processors with good incentives to adopt new and sustainable technologies and diversify production into higher value crops.
Through policy and institutional reforms that encourage and support private investments in agricultural value chains, the governments can support mechanisms and processes designed to create and strengthen farmer organizations, create mechanism for media engagement to ensure appropriate messaging and as a means of awareness creation and promotion of best practices.
The role of private sector Investments should be to ensure superior service delivery to the end consumer with the objective of maximizing service at an affordable price. Financial institutions (FIs) should play a key role in the agri-business sector, primarily on the credit front due to the priority sector lending requirement. They should be an integral component of the agri-system and finance should be available at each and every stage of the value chain in order to make the agri-system sustainable
The role of private sector investments should include promotion of grading, branding, packaging, as well as Investing in research and development strategies, investing in smallholder agriculture -models that maximize benefits to smallholder farmers.
Civil Society Organisations (CSO) considered as non-state actors have four vital functions which include planning, implementation, reform and accountability.
CSO planning provides ideas, evidence and expertise, thereby participating in dialogue/consultations to determine priorities. This can be done through advocacy at all levels starting from district assembly planning sessions and using community radio story design strategies. CSOs should be considered as service providers extending best practices , supporting training and advocacy
They should be involved in accountability, holding all partners accountable and promoting mutual accountability by setting indicators.
It is understood that CSO constituencies have legitimate and accountable representation and resources should made available to support their operations.
Civil society should be allowed to access to platforms for ensuring planning and accountability at all levels and also within their organisations, variable capacity of all actors and therefore the need to build capacity of members.
It is expected that all CSOs evolve from the grass roots to regional and national levels. This would facilitate having an apex for all the organisations. They should build more synergies among themselves, be more proactive, engaging and impactful. The above issues have been recognized at the regional level, and it is for this reason that the non-state actors guide for CAADP implementation was developed.
In conclusion, we can say there is urgent need to address the production gap and enhance the adaptive capacity of Africa's agricultural landscapes, considering the rapidly growing population and changing climate.
We should guarding against the expansion and encroachment of farm land by protecting smallholders against the impacts of climate change, and improving regional trade for increased agricultural productivity, through enhancing infrastructure, technologies. Business skills uplifted will create an enabling environment in the CWAR.
On the other hand, agricultural and rural development in developing countries must be founded on higher productivity of small-scale farmers. A more efficient access to land, water, technology, financial resources and other institutions that support poor farmers is fundamental. Improvement of transport and communication infrastructure, storage facilities, crop processing technologies and marketing solutions are needed to face the new market environment. It is important to have a clear understanding of where public investment needs to be made in support of the private sector in agriculture and agro-processing. The rural environment is continuously changing, the development mode of thinking. This is also changing rural development policies which need systematic adaptations. Since we all know the problems, this is the time to stop talking and act for achieving SDGs by 2030.
James Achanyi-Fontem, is a Senior Health Journalist and Communication Consultant. He worked as a health journalist and broadcaster for 30 years with Radio Cameroon and later Cameroon Radio Television, CRTV before retiring in 2005 to engage fully with Cameroon Link (Human Assistance Programme). Cameroon Link is a registered charity, not-for-profit organisation involved in the promotion of community health, humanitarian assistance, promotion of women and child rights through involvement of communities in Cameroon for mother and child health care. Cameroon Link is a partner to Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Farm Radio International (FRI), International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN Africa), World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). As the intermediary of Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Cameroon Link is engaged to implement a Cameroon Rural Radio story design Programming through an investigative research, which aims to discover through interviewing beneficiaries of health programmes on their interests, documenting and disseminating new ideas about how radio stations produce and air Healthy Communities Radio Programs in Cameroon.