67. The fourth NGO/CSO Regional Consultation for Africa took place from 27 to 29 February 2004 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg prior to the Twenty-third African Regional Conference. Ms Edith Molewa, Member of the Executive Council for North-West Province, on behalf of the Minister for Agriculture and Land Affairs, South Africa and the FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, Mr. Joseph Tchicaya, officially opened the meeting. The Consultation was attended by 46 participants from 19 African Countries, including 27 representatives from Farmers' Organizations (FOs) and 14 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
68. The Consultation agenda included two main themes that were also on the agenda of the Twenty-third ARC as follows: the follow-up to the WFS:fyl and the civil society involvement in NEPAD. At the end of the deliberations, the participants issued a final Declaration whose main recommendations are as follows:
69. For the Attention of Governments:
a. Increase public funding to agriculture/rural sector by at least 10% rising to 30%;
b. Formulate and promote policies and programmes that support family-based agroecological approaches to agriculture;
c. Commit themselves to promoting the establishment of national alliances against hunger enshrining the Right to Food, with strong civil society involvement;
d. Request TCP funding from FAO for Farmers' Organizations capacity building;
e. Work on mechanisms of involving Farmers' Organization/Civil Society Organization (FO/NGO/CSO) in development policy programmes and projects and initiatives such as NEPAD;
f. Address problems that make farming difficult and unprofitable: funding, infrastructure, markets, peace and security;
g. Involve FO/NGO/CSO in international protocols and agreements like WTO that affect the rural people;
h. Commit themselves to enhance subregional integration to promote inter-regional trade.
70. For the Attention of FAO:
a. provide support to FO/NGO/CSO to enable their effective participation in the NEPAD;
b. contribute to promoting policy dialogue between NGO/CSO and Governmental actors at national and regional level;
c. sensitize FAO country offices on the need to strengthen their relations with NGO/CSO and promote policy dialogue with Governments;
d. designate focal points for FAO-NGO/CSO relations in the FAO country offices in order to promote cooperation with FO/NGO/CSO at the national level;
e. support and involve FOs in its programmes and projects by working out a clear mechanism of participation, particularly in the Special Programme for Food Security at national and regional level;
f. encourage use of TCP funding for the FOs capacity-building;
g. contribute to strengthening the International Planning Committee (IPC) network in the Africa Region and assist the network in the implementation of its plan of action;
h. assist FO/NGO/CSO in mobilizing resources required for the implementation of their activities.
Financing for Agriculture and Rural Development: Summary Record
71. The Round Table considered papers and/or presentations by the NEPAD Secretariat, the African Development Bank and FAO. The purpose of the meeting was to examine how resources could be mobilized to increase investment in agriculture and meet the needs of CAADP implementation. The constraints to increasing investment at all levels were discussed, including external resources, domestic resource allocations, and how to ensure that investment funds actually reach farmers.
72. The background to the discussion was the alarming increase in the number of hungry people in Africa and the decline in aid and lending for African agriculture. Aid to agriculture is just US$1.1 billion per year - equivalent to US$1.60 per person. The estimates under CAADP of the investment needed is US$251 billion to 2015, which is a small figure when compared with the US$300 billion annual support given to agriculture in the OECD countries.
73. The constraints on internal and external resources include both the commitment of developed countries to aid in general and the government expenditure on agriculture. Over the last two years African leaders have prioritized agricultural development in order to achieve sustainable development across all sectors. This commitment was highlighted in the Maputo Declaration, in which Heads of State and Government pledged more resources to agriculture. It was agreed that the challenge now was to translate budgetary expenditure into effective delivery of services and support for the agriculture sector. The Round Table agreed that it would be useful for countries to share experiences in mobilizing resources for agriculture and ways of achieving effective delivery.
74. It was agreed that governments should continue to review agricultural policies and legislative frameworks to create an enabling environment for making better use of domestic resources. Allocations of public expenditure are made by Ministers for Finance. It therefore follows that Ministers for Agriculture needed to work more closely with Ministers for Finance. It was pointed out that the decline in financing institutions lending to agriculture can partly be attributed to decline in demand from African countries, as well as the conditionalities set by lending institutions and the perceived high risk associated with the sector. It was agreed that ministries of agriculture should become more effective as champions of the agricultural sector and the rural poor and in securing a larger share of PRSP and HIPC resources.
75. The issue of the competing claims of social sectors - health and education - for scarce resources was discussed. The underlying problem was that agriculture was seen as being a difficult sector by development partners, with poor perceived performance. Although poor performance was acknowledged, this was attributed, in part, to the large and expensive project approaches of the past. The Round Table emphasised the need for small scale, low cost, participatory approaches. It also discussed how agriculture could become self sustaining and how the equivalent of the high value of imported food could be converted into investment.
76. The Round Table agreed that the most important issue in financing agriculture was to ensure that investment funds reached the farmers themselves, since they were the primary producers of wealth in most African economies. A number of measures for achieving this were discussed, including ensuring that public services aimed at increasing farmers productivity - research, extension, inputs, information - reached farmers; cutting the cost of loan finance; supporting MFIs; and supporting development banks and commercial banks operations in agriculture. The options for providing rural finance were discussed and the question of preferential interest rates for small scale farmers was identified as a matter that required further discussion.
77. The Round Table stressed that profitability of agriculture underlies all other measures. Some of the major points that were raised in this regard related to enhancing the enabling environment for investment, with special emphasis on investing in infrastructure and promoting market integration. In this context it was recognized that there is considerable scope and need for public/private partnerships. The meeting observed that agricultures contribution to economic growth and its role as a productive sector in the economy needed to be recognized and reflected in budgetary allocations.
78. The problem of absorptive capacity was discussed. Improved utilization of existing resources can be achieved through ensuring that public services are demand-driven, and improving the implementation of projects. The Round Table emphasized that financing institutions and development partners should streamline their own procedures in project processing, procurement, disbursement, and monitoring.
79. The Round Table concluded that, although constraints exist to accessing external resources, this should not deter governments from initiating the implementation of CAADP with their own resources. The CAADP offers an ideal platform for the implementation of agricultural investments. Furthermore, the role of governments in engaging local stakeholders, i.e. the private sector, farmers, development finance institutions, as well as international development partners and finance institutions in increasing investment in agriculture was emphasized.