The Federal Government and other governments in Africa have been advised to show more commitment to the implementation of agricultural policy instruments to which they are signatories in order to alleviate poverty, achieve food security and promote sustainable development in the continent.
This advice was part of the recommendations of participants at the Training and Capacity Building for Media Practitioners on Agriculture Policies (CAADP, ECOWAP, APP, JSR, BR, NAIP, etc) in Nigeria organized by the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) in collaboration with TrustAfrica held in Abuja last Thursday.
At the end of the training session, participants agreed that CAADP truly aims to stimulate and facilitate increased agricultural performance through improvements in policy and institutional environments, access to improved technologies and information, and increased investment financing.
In furtherance of the implementation of the CAADP commitments, CAADP Results Framework was developed, for tracking, assessing and reporting progress made under the AU Malabo Declaration. Some of the elements which can as well be described as the key principles of CAADP are Mutual Accountability, Joint Sector Reviews and Biennial Reviews including the national instruments such as the National Agricultural Investment Plans (NAIP).
The participants also noted that some of these instruments sound complex to many farmers, non-state actors and the media
Pursuant to the objectives of the training, participants lauded the training and capacity building as a clear provision of the definition, contents, pillars, implications, issues and commitments on the various agriculture policies, namely; the CAADP and its linkage with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and specifically on how they are connected to the regional frameworks (ECOWAP) and national policies (the APP and NAIP) as well as their related instruments such as the JSR, BR, MAF, etc.
This is even as noted further that over the last 10 to 20 years, a number of policies have been rolled out at global, continental, sub-regional and domestic levels on the agriculture sector. Notable among these are the SDGs, CAADP, ECOWAP and APP respectively; and that many of these policies have not yielded the expected three-pronged result of poverty reduction, food security and sustainable development.
They therefore charged governments at all levels to wake up to the reality of the place of agriculture and implementation of the commitments to drive policy processes and investments thereto in the direction of poor farmers.
Specifically, the participants at the workshop expressed reservation over Nigeria’s performance and level of commitment to the implementation of Malabo commitments, especially given that whereas the country was deeply involved in the evolution and development of CAADP (propagated and signed by the former President – Chief Olusegun Obasanjo) making Nigeria a political father of the continental instrument.
They pointed out that regrettably, Nigeria only fared well on only two commitments namely, commitment to the CAADP principles and boosting intra-regional agricultural trade) out of the seven commitments. The participants observed that the country scored only 3.4 out of the required minimum threshold of 3.9 percent of the maximum 10 percent benchmark.
Similarly, the participants noted the fact that available statistics showed that about 20 per cent or about 36 million of Nigerians still go to bed without food was a clear indication of Nigeria’s inadequate performance in CAADP, ECOWAP and APP implementation.
Participants commended the various presentations and lessons learnt and highlighted the need for translating bulky data into infographics as pictorial representations for easy communication to the wider public especially the common man on the street.
However, they lamented that the subject of improved storage facilities, extension service delivery and the introduction and application of new farming technologies are given poor attention. This is against the backdrop that these are components of CAADP commitments directly linked to reducing post harvest losses in order to address the challenge of food security and imports substitution.
To improve the awareness on the various policy instruments and the level of implementation by governments in the continent, participants, who noted the absence of Journalists in the JSR Steering Committee, advocated the creation of a coalition of media actors working on agriculture monitoring and reporting.
This, they believe, would be a medium for engaging the JSR and BR activities (with the possibility of creating a whatsapp platform for improved interactions among themselves) with a view of properly communicating information on the reports thereof to the wider public and holding governments accountable to the commitments in the extant policies.
It was also agreed by the participants that the media have a responsibility for tracking the agriculture budget especially given that the commitment to Malabo Declaration of allocating at least 10% of national annual budget to agriculture, and the agriculture is one key sector where capital budget is higher than recurrent, and must therefore be effectively monitored so as to know the level of implementation and the overall impact on the lives and livelihoods of the citizens.
The participants resolved to increase the presentation of agric related policy instruments and their implementation process on the front burner of national discourse in order to create the needed awareness for citizens to collectively engage in the effective monitoring thereof, and in holding governments accountable to their commitments.
While the participants applauded the knowledge gotten on vital policy instruments for facilitating agricultural development, they also encouraged increased and timely re-training on these instruments. The technicalities of these instruments are too vital to be absorbed within one-off training session.
The participants thanked NANTS and TrustAfrica for their confidence in the media practitioners and commitment in organising the capacity building workshop.