FAO Regional Office for Africa

Civil society commends FAO for promoting sustainable agricultural production initiatives in Africa

Appeals to governments on strengthening youth participation at the 30th Regional Conference

Photo: ©FAO/Luis Tato

22 February 2018, Khartoum - A consortium of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from 23 African countries today commended the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for promoting sustainable agriculture to enhance rural economies as well as advocating the role of the youth in agriculture policy formulation.

The group shared a declaration highlighting the successes achieved over the past two years, and appealed to their respective governments and FAO to amplify their efforts on policies which protect the livelihoods of small scale food producers.

In a declaration presented by their selected spokesperson, Jean Paul Nyabyenda of the Mouvement International de la Jeunesse Agricole et Rurale (MIJARC) Rwanda chapter, the CSOs noted that the hope inspired in these agricultural-led initiatives for sustainable development is threatened by a number of challenges.

“Hunger and malnutrition continue to be endemic in Africa”, the CSOs asserted, and although governments largely recognize people’s right to food and nutrition, many have not taken consistent actions to internalize these rights within their national constitutions and legislations.

In addition to a deficit of political will to challenge the status quo, the CSO declaration cited numerous conflicts on the continent, the prevalence of terror attacks, and human-rights related issues which present a severe obstruction to food and nutrition security efforts. Emphasis was placed on the urgent need for policies aimed at reducing youth unemployment as nearly 20 million young men and women enter the labour market annually.

CSOs call African governments to act

The CSO declaration urged governments to enhance their regulation, transparency, and accountability of transnational corporations, and recommended that in accordance with the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and General Recommendation No. 34 (2016) on the rights of Rural Women, that impact assessments on women’s rights for large scale agricultural projects be made compulsory.

The CSOs further called on governments to take steps towards the achievement of long-lasting peace and security in the society, stating that “governments must put in place effective strategies to assist and support conflict-affected displaced communities, as well as those returning to their territories, with an aim to accelerate the recovery of their livelihoods and well-being.”

In the declaration, the participating CSOs confirmed their resolve to collaborate with their respective governments to harmonize contradictions in policy frameworks in favor of the interests of the people and of Nature, to integrate adaptation and mitigation approaches to address climate change.

The group also resolved to “be vocal against violence of war, armed conflict and terrorism, in whichever form it may take, and to develop and support concrete solidarity actions with those affected by war, armed-conflict and terrorism, and permanently strive towards lasting peace and stability in society.” These include the creation and facilitation of youth programmes for dialogue and exchange of experiences, as well as strengthening the capacities of the youth through mentoring and training.

This collection of CSOs includes representatives from small and medium-scale farmers, rural women and youth, fisher folk, agricultural workers, livestock keepers, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, landless peoples, consumers, and NGOs drawn from national, regional and international CSOs from 23 countries across the African continent.

The CSO consultation was independently organized, and held in Khartoum, Sudan, on 22 and  23 January 2018.