CONFERENCE OF MINISTERS OF AGRICULTURE OF THE AFRICAN UNION
1-2 July, 2003
Preparatory Meeting of Experts
1 July 2003
Item 2 of the Provisional Agenda
1. THE DIRE STATE OF AFRICA'S FOOD SECURITY AND AGRICULTURE
2. AFRICA'S RESPONSE
3. MOBILISING AFRICA FOR ACTION
4. TIME FOR DECISIVE ACTION
5. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MINISTERIAL ATTENTION
In this paper, "agriculture" is used to mean the entire value chain from farm or range to market, including processing and storage in between. It also includes forestry and fisheries.
Despite the fact that the majority of Africa's people feed themselves and that some countries in Africa export agricultural produce, the image conveyed most dramatically to the world is of Africa with a begging bowl. Africa faces repeated high-profile famines and has come to be perceived as a continent dependent on charity; an object of pity. In agriculture as in other sectors, Africa's production and market share in international commerce are both small; the region therefore lacks the ability to influence world prices or the patterns of trade or to significantly influence its own destiny. The poor performance of the African economy and its insignificance as a supplier of what the world is willing to buy are largely responsible for the region's marginal status.
Given that agriculture employs some 60 percent or more of Africa's people, the poor performance of this sector must be part of the reason for the continent's overall sorry state, hence the need to combat with vigour its deep malaise. This paper is written with the conviction that if managed properly, agriculture, especially in the short and medium term, has a potential greater than many other sectors to rejuvenate the African economy, to drag the poor on a mass scale out of their desperation, and to pull Africa out of its economic doldrums.
The case for prioritising agriculture should be self-evident in Africa. Nevertheless, the background given in Document AU/MIN/AGRI/1 under Agenda Item 1 "The state of food and agriculture in Africa" summarises the current situation in a manner that confirms that there is ample reason for Africa to give priority to agricultural development. At present, agriculture accounts for some 60 percent of Africa's employment and 20 percent of its export earnings; more than 70 percent of the total population and the majority of the extremely poor and undernourished live in rural areas, where agriculture is the mainstay of the economy. Although agriculture is not the only solution to food insecurity, it is a central part of it, especially since in Africa many consumers, more than in any other region, still produce their own food. But the sector is in crisis.
Yet, despite knowledge of both the sector's importance and the crisis it faces, agriculture continues to attract only limited public and private support. Consequently, all indicators show Africa (particularly sub-Saharan Africa) falling well below other developing regions. For example, Africa has for long lagged behind in the proportion of arable land irrigated, value added per worker, levels of fertiliser use, and productivity growth for both crops and livestock. The consequences of these shortcomings, combined with overall economic failings, have been direct and devastating1.
Furthermore, whereas South Asia now has in absolute numbers more undernourished and poor than Africa, Africa will both in absolute and relative terms soon lead in these indicators. In a continent where population has been rising at up to 3 percent annually or higher, the 1967 to 2000 annual agricultural growth rate of around 2 percent for sub-Saharan Africa has meant worsening food supply, declining rural incomes and rising poverty. It may prove a challenge to maintain even this modest growth rate: HIV/AIDS mortality and infection rates of unprecedented levels are rapidly decimating Africa's labour force. Africa is also rapidly losing highly educated manpower to HIV/AIDS, leaving behind in agriculture mostly the too old, too young, and others with limited potential to adopt progressive technologies and production methods; if nothing is done, the future looks bleak.
Africa's performance in trade (a potentially important way to earn income) has also been discouraging. Africa's share of total world trade for all goods was only 1.2 percent during the 1990s, having fallen from 3.1 percent in the 1950s; for world agricultural exports, Africa's share has more than halved from 8 percent in 1971-1980 to only 3.4 percent in 1991-2000. The argument is frequently advanced that highly subsidised agriculture in the developed countries is responsible for making Africa's exports uncompetitive. Yet Africa needs to wonder why other developing regions facing the same barriers have done better and in fact have taken up some of the market share Africa used to have. Many African countries' trade has also remained over-dependent on only one or two commodities and on unprocessed products, with the benefits of value addition being reaped at the destination. Indeed, with abrupt opening up to competing suppliers, it is common to see even the little industrial capacity Africa has established declining - in some countries, the agricultural sector appears to be de-industrialising on a major scale.
Africa can boast some achievements in the food and agriculture field; North Africa has examples of some of the world's most productive and sustainable irrigated farming. Some small-dam programmes in Southern Africa offer lessons to the rest of the world; there are some small-scale but world-class high-value cut-flower and horticultural enterprises that are competing with the best; and recent special programmes for food security in a number of countries are offering hope to many. On the whole, however, these shining examples are few and far between. After they achieved political independence, many African countries sought to accelerate progress by launching many new foreign-aided projects and programmes. These interventions generally created successful enclaves within a milieu of non-performing agriculture or agro-industry - success rarely survived much beyond completion of the externally-supported projects.
Some believe that this phenomenon has resulted from weakness of institutions - including an inadequate voice for and poor organisation of the producers themselves; frequent shifts in policies, strategies and techniques of agricultural development; limited investment into agriculture or into its support structures; and interventions that tilted relative prices in favour of non-agricultural sectors. Africa has been the testing ground for changing approaches to agricultural development: at one time or another integrated rural development programmes held sway, then they went out of favour; various styles of extension and farm support were tried then abandoned; state agricultural marketing boards were established as well as state farms, parastatal enterprise farms, industries and markets - these too were later abandoned. The prevailing international conventional wisdom is against direct government involvement in economic activities and has ushered in the still ongoing liberalisation and structural adjustment. The key thing to observe is that all these have been attempted but Africa has few notable successes to show for them. Clearly there is something missing and the low level of practical commitment to agriculture may be at fault.
As indicated in the background paper, Africa's agriculture still depends on the vagaries of natural rainfall; uses very little fertiliser or other modern yield-enhancing inputs and technologies; continues to produce crude commodities, with its trade having minimal value-added content. In some countries, agricultural budgets remain predominantly externally sourced, with national public funds for agriculture and rural development minimal. Africa appears deaf to the adage that one cannot reap where one does not sow.
Frustration with the consequences of under-performance led agriculture winning the distinction of being the only economic sector in the first set of NEPAD programmes. The Steering Committee asked for an action programme on the sector and the secretariat worked with FAO to prepare the "Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme" (CAADP). Taking advantage of the presence in Rome of African Ministers of Agriculture for the World Food Summit: five years later FAO convened a special session of the FAO Regional Conference for Africa on 9th June 2002. The ministers focused on NEPAD and endorsed the CAADP, which responds directly to the crisis situation outlined above.
Without in any way implying that long-term policy and institutional changes are not needed, the CAADP focuses on practical action under three mutually supportive pillars to induce quickest production increases: (a) extending the area under sustainable land management and reliable water control systems; (b) improving rural infrastructure and trade-related capacities for improved market access; (c) increasing food supply and reducing hunger. In addition it presents a long-term pillar on agricultural research, technological dissemination and adoption. Furthermore, the CAADP pays attention to emergencies and disasters that require food and agricultural responses. Given Africa's diverse potentials, constraints and opportunities, the CAADP is to be implemented in a flexible fashion.
The CAADP requires an investment of some US$251 billion for 2002-2015 (equivalent to nearly US$17.9 billion per annum), broken down as follows:
It is worth stating that agriculture does not operate in a vacuum. Consequently, agricultural progress can benefit from synergy with interventions in other areas of NEPAD concern2. In particular, the following will be important: (a) Health: the NEPAD Action Plan estimates are that malaria alone has reduced economic growth by 1.3 percent annually and HIV/AIDS by up to 2.6 percent in high-prevalence countries; (b) Infrastructure: for lack of adequate access routes, landlocked countries are severely disadvantaged in competing in international and even African markets due to high freight and insurance costs. Poor transport connectedness keeps markets small and below competitive economies of scale. Intra-African trade routes generally are very poor and port capacities, etc. are inadequate. Power supply and communications all undermine the possibility of rural industrialisation based on agriculture; and (c) Education: NEPAD views this as the prime stimulator of national development and the main factor that separates countries that make it and those that do not; and (d) Environment: combat and avoid further rapid natural resources degradation (land, range, forests, water), including shared or trans-boundary waters and other resources.
2.2.2 The Plan of Action to operationalise the NEPAD programme
Document AU/MIN/AGRI/3 under Agenda Item 3, "A Brief Presentation of the process of converting the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) to implementable Plans of Action at national and regional levels" presents the process of converting the CAADP and its thrusts into an Action Plan. It indicates the function of this Action Plan as being the beginning of a process to kick-start immediate implementation of CAADP, the NEPAD vision of agriculture. It also lists key elements of the plan, including preparation of flagship projects that are regional and/or multi-country in nature, whose interventions are mutually reinforcing and aimed at:
The Action Plan is at the start of a dynamic process and in its present version carries a first tranche of "NEPAD flagship projects" which, at US$15.7 billion are equivalent to only 6 percent of the full cost estimated for the CAADP. Details of the programmes are annexed in Document AU/MIN/AGRI/3. So too is the set of programme/project ideas and themes organised under CAADP pillars and into short and longer-term categories. The fact that the first tranche covers only 6 percent of the CAADP total is significant in that:
The NEPAD Steering Committee has consistently called for action to combat immediate crises arising out of emergencies and also building up capacities to avert and respond to future ones. Driving this preoccupation is the belief that if emergencies are left unattended, they can severely undermine and even reverse gains in long-term development. For this reason, the very first tranche of projects in the NEPAD Agriculture Action Plan4 is dominated by action on food reserves and on disaster prevention and emergency response capacity.
Preparing and adopting an Action Plan for NEPAD agriculture is a step forward. Ensuring practical commitment to its implementation is essential. Africa will need to mobilise popular energy and enthusiasm, funding from the general public, from its own governments and the private sector, and from external partners. Given their key roles in production, Africa will need to mobilise the energy of women. Furthermore, Africa will need to mobilise at all levels: individual, enterprise, national, regional and (progressively) continental.
Even more important: Africa must secure the renewed commitment of each country to supporting agriculture vigorously under its own national development plans, keeping in mind the need for countries to act in harmony rather than at cross-purposes. For actions to achieve a rapid renewal of African productivity, NEPAD will need to convince individual countries that applying the main themes of the NEPAD CAADP can do a lot for them individually and collectively. To succeed at any level will require that Africa recognises and acts upon certain basic fundamentals, upon each of which subsequent sections elaborate:
3.1.1 Make agriculture attractive
As in any other field of endeavour, the assurance of funding is profit: agricultural and agro-industry investment should be made attractive for both small and large-scale operators. At present, agriculture is not attracting much funding despite people going hungry and market access opportunities for Africa going unfilled. This suggests a disconnect between existence of agricultural opportunities and the ability to meet them profitably. This does not mean that the activity is inherently unprofitable; only that conditions are not right for it.
Irrespective of their scale of operation, from smallholder to corporate giant, farmers, processors of agricultural produce and traders all need a profitable agriculture, with stable and conducive polices and strategies. At present, much agriculture is practised by smallholders that do it for lack of feasible alternative livelihood options; the young avoid it if they can and stay in cities; and investors go for easier ways of getting a return. Past experience demonstrates that unsound macroeconomic policies may be the largest source of disincentives to agricultural growth. Furthermore, frequent changes in policies, strategies, approaches or commitment to agriculture (whether arising for political reasons or from adapting to changing conditionalities of donors), cannot permit progress. Those who produce cannot remain committed and cannot willingly invest when markets are unstable, inputs availability is uncertain, or support services in technology or financing are poor or non-existent etc.
In too many African countries, the share of public spending on agriculture does not reflect its importance in the economy, this could be a key reason for agriculture to be unattractive. Governments allocate so little public funding that they fail to achieve the needed improvements in the above areas of need. In order to get more out of agriculture, Africa must put more into it. For example, the background paper on the state of food security and agriculture in Africa reports that on average East Asian farmers use some 241 kg of fertiliser per hectare to produce some 4300 kg of cereal; farmers in high-income countries use 125 kg to produce 4000 kg of cereals. How can farmers in sub-Saharan Africa who use only 9 kg per hectare expect more than the 990 kg they now have as yield? To reach higher yields, they too must apply more nutrients and other inputs and this requires funding whether public or from better prices for their own products.
Public policies and spending decisions should avoid bias against the sector. Funding allocations and the political commitment to agriculture and rural development that they reflect are a prerequisite for progress. The necessary rural infrastructure should be developed otherwise agriculture and rural development cannot attract investors and those already in the sector cannot access markets and be competitive. Whatever steps Africa takes, a fundamental need is to create conditions where agriculture can sustainably make profits; for this reason, there must be functioning markets. Recent structural reforms have frequently revealed an entrepreneurial deficit in marketing (and in other agricultural services) so that producers are unwilling to produce surpluses for market. There will also generally be need to rationalise agriculture, to increasingly make it more professional and to give it a greater commercial orientation with the full involvement of smallholders. In agro-processing and agro-trade, there will be need to make conditions supportive for the informal sector, which has potential to serve as a launching pad for larger-scale industry and a training ground for essential entrepreneurial and technical skills.
In the field of international trade, given that Africa is a very minor player on the world stage (only 3 percent of agricultural trade), it will make progress only if the international community offers it a more level playing field in which its non-subsidised smallholder products can find a market. The small-scale African farmers are currently disadvantaged in competing with counterparts in the OECD industrialised countries that receive heavy subsidies on the farm; for exporting; and subventions if their crops under-perform or if prices fall below specific threshold levels; and insurance safety nets. For lack of price-stabilisation mechanisms for the main export products of Africa (including major ones like coffee) major dislocations to producers occur and these discourage effort and reinvestment. Furthermore, Africa has, for lack of supply-response capacity, so far failed to capture its share of market opportunities from earlier preferential market access.
3.1.2 Be focused
In the current crisis situation, of the many priorities, Africa could, for example, choose to focus on combating famines and addressing their underlying causes and on adapting farming to the impacts of the HIV/AIDS crisis.
But in taking on the raging problems, it should not forget that as a continent, it used to be a leading exporter of a number of products but now dominates almost none. Its leadership has often shifted to other developing regions or individual countries that have single-mindedly targeted specific products for which to achieve market prominence. Africa has lacked focus and lost leadership, prominence or significance for coffee, palm oil, groundnuts, cotton. How can Africa reverse this? how can destructive competition between countries be replaced by partnership around strategic products where whole sub-regions of Africa can achieve greater output? How did Africa achieve deficit status even for basic foods such as rice (West Africa), sorghum and millet (Sahelian Africa); maize (Eastern and Southern Africa), cassava (humid Africa)?
NEPAD, in co-operation with RECs, can make a contribution to focusing agendas by promoting convergence of many countries' priorities around a few, selected products rather than dispersal of investment as in the past over the universe of possibilities. NEPAD can encourage progression towards emergence of Africa's sub regions as major producers by exhorting them to move beyond the "retail" approach to development which has kept each country a small producer of everything and leader in none - this has led to growing national and collective marginality in international markets and to lack of excellence and comparative advantage.
3.1.3 Mobilise adequate and sustained funding
A guiding philosophy of NEPAD is African ownership; ownership requires that Africa takes responsibility, including in terms of funding. Therefore, fundraising efforts need to particularly target several sources: the private sector (including the smallholder as investor) and government budgets. Donors and international partners have an important support function but cannot be expected to replace Africa's own commitment and funding. At their 9th June 2002 meeting on NEPAD in Rome, African Ministers of Agriculture resolved to6 "devise a concerted strategy involving the Ministers for Agriculture, and those responsible for Finance and Planning for increasing the funding of agriculture and rural development in order to ensure the proper funding of NEPAD agriculture-related programmes..." Furthermore, they decided to "prepare a proactive plan of action for enhancing the role and contribution of the private sector and civil society in the implementation of NEPAD agricultural programmes including upstream and downstream agriculture-related activities. . .". The willingness is in place; what is needed is application.
220.127.116.11 Give priority to making agriculture profitable
Among the barriers to profitability and competitiveness of African agriculture may be highlighted the following:
In creating better conditions for agriculture, there will be need to recognise that rural prosperity is dependent not solely on farming but also on effective interlinkages with non-farm enterprises, some of which supply goods and services essential for efficient agriculture, with others being important for their direct income contributions.
18.104.22.168 Fund from government budgets
The above factors all require government action. The problem appears to be that in implementing structural adjustment programmes, governments have withdrawn not only from economic activities in agriculture but from their responsibilities to provide a supportive environment. Downsizing has left farming and rural development without effective extension, credit and market support/inputs provision services; investment in infrastructure has stalled or regressed; policies may exist but lack implementation capacity. The paltry sums governments allocate to the sector offer little hope of this situation improving. Indeed, it is a mystery of African development that despite most of their people depending on the sector, African governments are willing to give the activity such minimal budgetary allocations.
There is an unanswerable paradox when Africa is compared to the European Union (EU): (a) African countries, with over 60 percent of their people dependent on agriculture allocate as little as 1 percent or less of their national budgets to agriculture; and (b) the European Union, with 5 percent or fewer of its citizens dependent on the land, allocates half of its budget to the Common Agricultural Policy under which it provides heavy subsidies and other support for agriculture.
It is often suggested that Africa cannot afford to subsidise its agriculture and this is probably true. The question remains though of whether it is better to apply a little subsidy or face frequent famines leading to food-aid dependency and to forced diversion of scarce foreign exchange to imports of food in emergency conditions. Africa has not taken the trouble to assess whether it does not spend more on rushed food imports than it would need to subsidise key yield-enhancing inputs, water supply for agriculture or rural infrastructure. If Africa chooses to match the importance of agriculture for its peoples with the resources and effort it makes available for it or in support of it, its governments could:
The above will require active involvement of smallholder associations, farmer groups, industry associations, chambers of commerce and industry and rural development banks.
With specific regard to NEPAD agriculture, governments need to address all the shortcomings listed above but, in addition, to allocate in national budgets for national components of NEPAD programmes and for participation in supportive trans-boundary NEPAD activities e.g. trade facilitation, capacity building, infrastructure developments, policy harmonisation, pests and diseases, and joint emergency preparedness etc.
22.214.171.124. Mobilise private sector funding
For both the private sector7 and the smallholder as investor to reinvest into agriculture, they should be able to make profit. Assured profitability would attract additional investors. In a continent where governments are too poor to offer substantial subsidies as incentives, the profit motive is the only realistic major funding force. The failure of purely private sector driven development after structural reforms suggests that in Africa, perhaps more than elsewhere, government intervention is essential to prepare the ground for private investment to flourish. As conditions become "right", private sector mechanisms such as the banking sector would be able to step in, driven by enhanced prospects for profit.
A key element of creating the "right" conditions is promotion of a situation of minimised risk, with a stable macroeconomic environment, market-oriented exchange rate systems, and well defined rules for business to enhance price stability and encourage investment. Past experience demonstrates adverse macroeconomic policies as the largest source of disincentives to agricultural growth. The macroeconomic framework has improved in many countries, yet the agenda is incomplete in many others. Price transmission from both domestic and world markets to the farm gate need improvement. It is essential that producers gain from opportunities. In many cases, the decline in international prices of some crops such as cereals but even important export ones such as coffee and cotton requires enhanced incentives for alternative high-value crops and activities.
126.96.36.199 Get funds from donors and other external public sources
Regarding donors/external partners, Africa will for a long time need external aid, which can also facilitate access to new ideas and technology and to contacts for market opportunities. However, the all too frequent situation where donors cover most of the agricultural budgets in African countries seems highly unfortunate, unsustainable, and quite against any principles of national security, given that food production is at stake. If heavy dependence on donors for agriculture coexists with reliance on food aid, Africa's security and independence become highly exposed and at risk.
As this new millennium starts, the time appears ripe for Africa to realise that the international community and donors do not owe its people a living. The numbers speak for themselves: OECD countries spend about US$360 billion a year (nearly US1 billion a day) on subsidising their own farmers, apart from also subsidising exports; by contrast, in 1999, agricultural aid to all developing countries in Africa was only US$2.6 billion for a whole year. At the same time, the allocations to aid are declining: according to the World Bank, total Official Development Assistance (ODA) flows are down 25 percent in the last 4 years8. In developing Africa, agricultural aid fell from US$4 billion in 1990 to only US$2.6billion in 1999, a fall of 35 percent. Furthermore, the reduced aid that is available tends increasingly to be diverted to emergency relief rather than long-term development.
In the context of considering how to mobilise funds, section 3.1.3 "Mobilise adequate and sustained funding" has referred to much that goes beyond money; that section makes it clear that governments have a vital role in ensuring success. Indeed, its message is that the private sector cannot succeed if government commitment is weak. In addition, there are important roles for the farmers, agro-industry producers and traders themselves; for private firms; and for donors. To ensure that all stakeholders are pulling in the same direction requires mechanisms for effective and action-oriented consultations, with adequate space being available for the weak to have a voice while leaving room for sometimes hard choices to be made and decisions to be taken in a timely manner. Highlights are given in the sections below.
3.2.1 Role of the Member States
The member countries will be the main actors and beneficiaries of NEPAD agricultural initiatives. In playing this dual role and in order to foster ownership, commitment and accountability, the members states would be encouraged to embrace or incorporate in their national budgets NEPAD-related programmes and projects. As indicated in section 3.1.3, the basis for engaging governments is to make NEPAD areas of interest and priority coincide with national self-interest. Modern conventional wisdom does not offer an executive role to governments in economic activities. However, as emphasised in section 3.1, governments have indispensable roles in creating an enabling environment for private sector (corporate and individuals) to work well. Specific tasks of government can be seen under sections 3.1.1 and 3.1.3.
For small farmers organisations and Civil Society Organisations, governments have as important a role in creating an enabling environment as for the commercial private sector; perhaps even more. Governments need to offer space for farmers to have a voice in influencing policy and priorities, to defend the livelihoods and sources of prosperity of their membership, to provide services to their membership, and to protect themselves from exploitation by unscrupulous service providers whether public or private. Capacity building for farmer organisations may be a crucial part of the enabling conditions for success.
It will be necessary for governments to review and enhance support and budgets for agriculture and factors that support its development; to integrate NEPAD in their development plans; to press their REOs to also give it priority, and to mobilise all national stakeholders involved in the promotion of economic development of the country to implement all activities supportive of the NEPAD CAADP vision. Furthermore, it is only governments that can ensure peace, minimise risks, and provide an atmosphere where the rule of law assures the private sector of security for its operations.
3.2.2 Role of the African Union and NEPAD
The African Union established NEPAD to direct focused attention at pressing development and governance issues of the day. The AU has charged NEPAD with responsibility for promoting action and providing feedback to the AU, which can then mobilise supportive political commitment to address issues. The roles of the AU can be exercised directly as well as through NEPAD machinery and include what is listed below. It should be noted that NEPAD is not an executive body; indeed it is a mechanism rather than corporate entity. Its future roles in agriculture need to reflect its intention to remain lean; to avoid adding to the proliferation of organisations, and to avoid direct involvement in implementation of programmes. What NEPAD has strong vocation for are the following roles:
3.2.3 Role of Regional Economic Communities/Organisations (RECs/REOs)
Assuming appropriate strengthening, RECs/REOs have the potential to take on execution roles for regional programmes and projects and regional components of collections of related national projects. RECs and REOs can play at their level much the same roles as the AU and NEPAD would play at continental level and under the same headings:
In addition, they would:
In order to play the above roles effectively, it will be important for RECs/REOs to build up capacities so that they can win the necessary confidence and thereby secure reliable funding and other support. At present, they need to pay attention to two main things: (a) the multiple membership and lack of rationalisation whereby countries are in overlapping membership of several REOs. This situation has the potential to draw countries' attention in divergent directions so dispersing the attention of governments; (b) they generally have weak organisational capacity and limited resources - very often they have an insecure funding base, with national contributions not assured. Indeed, new models for funding RECs will have to be found if they are to achieve credibility in implementing programmes.
3.2.4 Role of the Private Sector
The importance of the private sector's participation in agricultural production, processing, infrastructure, trade and research related activities cannot be overemphasised. As such, the development and sustainability of agricultural investment under NEPAD requires the active participation of the private sector on its own or in partnership with governments. Lack of dynamic participation of the private sector in support of improved agricultural production and productivity has contributed to poor performance of the agricultural sector in the region. The emergence of large multinational chains controlling the full value chain from farm to market is a reality to take account of in seeking effective engagement of the predominantly small operators in Africa.
Irrespective of size of enterprise or whether local or multinational, as stated earlier (section 3.1), private sector participation will largely depend on the enabling environment, entrepreneurial capacity of the private sector itself and its ability to access financial markets. The overall operating environment must make agriculture profitable and should attenuate levels of risk to attract the participation of the private sector. Therefore, NEPAD initiatives should also put great attention to the enhancement of countries' socio-political and economic culture conducive to private sector development, in particular, reinforcement of rule of law, sound financial markets within the framework of the countries macro-economic and sectoral policies.
Private sector entities could either participate individually or as organised groups (associations) after the public sector (governments) have put in place the required capital investment, such as infrastructure (irrigation systems, access roads). There are many models for partnership with governments; in some countries, infrastructure could be leased out to the private sector. The other possible involvement of the private sector would be through outgrower schemes or through contract farming arrangements with smallholder farmers. To ensure increased delivery of production to agro-processors (private sector), small farmers would be contracted to produce using improved technology financed and delivered by the private sector. These farmers would be assured of a market at negotiated prices of their products. At the same time, the private sector would provide extension and other services and later add value to the product at the secondary level through agro-processing.
3.2.5 Role of farmers' organisations and civil society
In a situation of smallholder dominance, lack of organisation is a recipe for being exploited. Farmer and informal-sector entrepreneur organisation is therefore important; it allows them to also help themselves better both through advocacy for shared needs but also in delivering service.
Given the importance NEPAD attaches to good governance, civil society organisations (farmer and informal sector entrepreneurs' organisations, women's organisations, and other specialised NGOs) can help to channel grassroots' input to decision makers in the form of information needed to design the best policies or interventions and to target them better.
Background Document AU/MIN/AGRI/1 under Agenda Item 1 "The State of food and agriculture in Africa" and this paper have offered no good news on Africa's agricultural and food security situation. The picture they paint of its production and consumption is grim, with no cause for future cheer if current policies and levels of effort continue. This paper has communicated the view that NEPAD offers an approach that can help if embraced adequately and correctly by governments and the African private sector. As clear a message as possible has been communicated that Africa must face its own responsibility: the world at large does not owe the continent a living. In any case, the option of depending interminably for a basic need like food on other governments and on multilateral charity does not sit well with claims that Africa is independent. Few situations can undermine any other claims to developmental success that Africa may wish to make than dependence on the food charity of others.
Sometimes, the escape route from this unpleasant reality has been to blame others: they have closed their markets, they subsidise their producers so making Africa uncompetitive, they offer too little aid etc. But the fact of the matter is that these adverse conditions also apply to other developing regions - Asia and Latin America. Yet these others have gained some ground even if not all that would have been possible in a fairer world. They have made headway against sometimes heavy odds through hard work; investment; focus on selected strategic products where they have decided to become prominent enough to start influencing global markets; partnership building between the public and private sectors rather than abandoning public responsibilities in the name of liberalisation; and above all, by long-term commitment and its associated discipline. Africa can study and emulate their experience, adapting it to its own context.
Africa cannot afford further inaction or a business as usual stance: the price it would pay would be too high; it cannot afford to act as if it can reap where it did not sow; and it cannot afford to leave its fate in the hands of others on the assumption that they will always be driven by charity to help if things get desperate. Africa has rich enough natural resources not to need to accept desperation. What it needs is the determination to save itself and to regain true self-reliance. Such determination may well be the most important ingredient for success.
There are vital decisions that must be made and guidance given to NEPAD and RECs/REOs future activities. The following recommendations are being proposed for consideration and decision by the Ministers:
1 Document AU/MIN/AGRI/1 under Agenda Item 1, "The State of Food and Agriculture in Africa 2003".
2 For details, see: NEPAD Secretariat, 2002: NEPAD @ work: Summary of NEPAD Action Plans. Midrand, S. Africa. July 2002. 64pp.
3 Which falls outside the agriculture sector/programme of NEPAD.
4 Document AU/MIN/AGRI/3 under Agenda Item 3, "A Brief Presentation of the process of converting the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) to implementable Plans of Action at national and regional levels", some three-quarters of the first budget of US$10 billion is for emergency preparedness and response capacity.
5 This is something that appears not to have been done well in past regional initiatives, with the result that no stakeholder took forceful action or leadership at any level.
6 FAO. 2002. Report of the Twenty-Second FAO Regional Conference for Africa - Follow-up Ministerial meeting on NEPAD. Rome, Italy (9 June, 2002). Document ARC /FLW/02/REP, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Rome.
7 With focus on the African private sector.
8 World Bank Press release 2002/212.