Five years ago, the African Union (AU) launched the “Year of Agriculture and Food Security” marking the 10th anniversary of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP.
This was on January 30th 2014 during the 22nd Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia under the theme “Transforming Africa’s Agriculture for shared prosperity and improved livelihoods: Harnessing Opportunities for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development”.
In commemoration of the year, the African Union Commission (AUC) carried out broad based consultations with key stakeholders, including AU Member States, producers, women and youth organizations, and development and technical partners across the continent to review, strategize and set goals, actions and targets for the next decade to 2025 as part of Sustaining the CAADP Momentum.
The climax of the 2014 AU Year of Agriculture and Food Security was marked during the 23rd Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, from 26-27 June 2014 during which AU Heads of State and Government adopted the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth And Transformation for Shared Prosperity And Improved Livelihoods. As part of the recent commitments, the AU Heads of State and Government committed to ending hunger by 2025 and to achieve this they further resolved to halve the current levels of post-harvest losses by the year 2025.
Current situation in East Africa
In East Africa, the member states are yet to fully implement the Malabo Declaration as a means to ensuring food security and transformation of the agricultural sector.
This scenario has pushed the East African Legislative Assembly to call on the Partner States to implement the Malabo Declaration.
The Agriculture Sector remains a major contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the East African region with Kenya accounting for 31.3 per cent, Uganda at 25 per cent, Burundi at 34.2 per cent, Tanzania 30 per cent, Rwanda 33 per cent and South Sudan at 34.5 per cent.
EALA recently approved a report of the Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources on Budgetary Enhancement in the Agricultural Sector.
The report presented to the House by the Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Mathias Kasamba stated that despite its potential, the agriculture sector has been growing slowly over the years and continues to attract limited funding from governments, far below the continental benchmark of 10per cent. Moreover, Partner States are yet to put in place action plan(s) for attaining the 10 per cent budgetary allocation to the sector.
Hon Kasamba noted that young people are losing interest in agricultural activities, a situation which, if not addressed, threatens the sustainability of the sector.
Conscious of the challenges and opportunities of agriculture and its positive contribution to economic transformation on the Africa continent, the African Union leaders adopted a Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) known as the Maputo Declaration in 2003.
The report reveals a number of challenges within the Partner States, while saying that many Partner States can address some of the challenges given the fact they are at an advanced stage of preparation of their 2019/2020 national budgets.
Push for enhanced budget allocation to agricultural sector
At debate time, Hon Engineer Habib Mnyaa called on the Assembly to collaborate more closely with the relevant committees in the national Parliaments to allow for the push of enhanced budgets.
During the debate, Hon Amb Fatuma Ndangiza termed agricultural sector as crucial in the economies of the Partner States and the region.
“Agriculture remains to be critical in all the EAC Partner States with 70-72% of the citizens in the region depending on the Agriculture Sector”, the legislator remarked.
In the Malabo declaration, the leaders also pledged to accelerate agricultural growth by at least doubling current agricultural productivity levels, by the year 2025.
‘In doing so, we will create and enhance the necessary appropriate policy and institutional conditions and support systems to facilitate sustainable and reliable production and access to quality and affordable inputs (for crops, livestock, fisheries, amongst others) through, among other things, provision of ‘smart’ protection to smallholder agriculture; supply of appropriate knowledge, information, and skills to users,” the declaration reads in part.
The leaders also pledged to strengthen the capacity of the African Union Commission to help it fulfill the growing roles and mandates we have been ascribing to it, through the declaration as well as other relevant previous Declarations and Decisions. “…and to this end we invite the Chairperson of the Commission to submit a proposal with a view to enhancing the institutional capacity of the lead Department as well as other relevant units, for consideration and approval by the January 2015 Ordinary Session of the Executive Council.” The declaration adds.