August 19, 2010

AGRA CO-SPONSORED DIALOGUE ON MOVING TOWARD AN AFRICAN GREEN REVOLUTION


REPORT ON THE AGRA CO-SPONSORED DIALOGUE ON, MOVING TOWARD AN AFRICAN GREEN REVOLUTION: A DILAOGUE ON COLLABORATING WITH THE CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS HELD FROM 15th – 16th July, 2010 AT THE WINSOR GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB, NAIROBI, KENYA.

INTRODUCTION

“The biggest contribution to climate change in Africa is agriculture due to the fact that we are cutting down forests for more agricultural land.” Namanga Ngongi, president AGRA. The two day dialogue was to try and enhance the working out of the legalities on how civil societies could work best with AGRA. Africa continues to face significant food security challenges, despite the progress made by African governments to increase national agricultural budgets. To achieve national and regional food security, it is critical that agricultural productivity be increased and that the pace of change is accelerated. An integrated approach towards this increase in agricultural productivity must involve those civil society organizations (CSOs) who have the ability to understand the specific and differentiated nature of smallholder farm production and have successful experiences with knowledge transfer. To improve the effectiveness and long-term impact of this work, The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa believes it is crucial to actively engage with civil society organizations to advance the ideals of a green revolution.

AGRA thus looked at enhancing this collaboration by both policy formulation and advocacy and program operation during the dialogue. The discussion also emphasized an incremental approach, building on current mechanisms and practices, and envisioning activities and innovations to strengthen civil society’s work with small holder farmers over the next 2- 4 years from which an Action Plan can be extracted from.

This dialogue thus was to work out on;

  • How best the civil society feels AGRA should work best with them in Africa
  • In what ways does AGRA feels it should work best with the civil society of Africa

Africa is the most vulnerable continents when it comes to the effects of climate change. The 20c increase is going to affect the growth of our continent since the issue of organic matter has never been addressed (increase in organic matter fastens the rate of organic matter decomposition). One thing that has not come up is that although AGRA’s strategy is very clear on improving the technocrats, the civil society has failed to take care of the technocrats in terms of providing them with a suitable environment for them to work. One issue is palpable, that the natural resources are depleting, there is increase in production and sustainability of resources is quite uncertain. It is from this information background that the civil society felt that the issues that need intervention from AGRA include;

  • How does AGRA diagnose the problem in Africa in terms of the environment?
  • What is AGRA’s exit plan in terms of helping the small holder farmers?
  • What is AGRA’s plan for the delinquency of towns?

EXPECTED OUTCOMES OF THE DIALOGUE

  1. A joint work plan and strategy for engaging civil society to deliver a Green Revolution for Africa
  2. A common understanding of AGRA’s goals and CSO’s needs within the AGRA breadbasket strategy context
  3. AGRA to be perceived as a transparent and accountable organization in touch with public good
  4. An increased awareness and perception of a more integrated approach towards agriculture
  5. Direct access to capable CSO’s who can brief AGRA on our specific areas of interest help influence changes in national policy

WHY THE CIVIL SOCIETY

Civil society has a major role in bringing in bringing the willingness to bring change to the mass population. The Alliance for Green Revolution for Africa (AGRA) has felt that it has not yet done a lot in terms to do with the civil society in Africa when they engage in issues to deal with advocacy. Following that, AGRA has been working closely with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) which has done a lot of mobilization of the political will of political leaders to spend a lot of their budget on agriculture citing examples like India which spends up to 25% of its national budget just on agriculture.

CONCERNS

Food security in Africa since predictions state that this might not be achieved given the fact that climate change is at currently the biggest impediment to achieve food security in Africa! The problem with food security is twofold;

  1. We Africans are only talking about indigenous factors while sidelining the exotic factors
  2. The security from outside (donor funding is highly dependent on the Northern countries)

The main issue that came up and needed intervention was that even though women comprise of up to 70- 85% of the small holder farmers in the rural areas and are the ones who would be highly affected by climate change, there haven’t been clear ways developed on how to mainstream gender in all these activities.

The civil society feels that given that AGRA is in the dire need to work with the civil societies in Africa, a revolution is yet to be seen in terms of attaining food security in Africa while mitigating to climate change. A major concern was that Africa has got varied weather conditions and given the climate change effects, the weather conditions will be quite unpredictable and farmers need to adapt to these forthcoming harsh events. As productivity increases, the lesser the prices of such commodities go down and thus would have an influence on what and how much in terms of quantity of crops to produce and AGRA should take into consideration of this. Discrepancies followed since even though the civil society wanted so much to work with AGRA, they still were not clear what AGRA is doing and were not certain if AGRA is only seeking to work or rather implement the strengthening of the role of the civil societies in the P1 countries.

STRENGTHENING THE ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN AGRA

Addressing policy development; AGRA saw the need to look at the economic branding first and understand what policies would be viable that cut across all civil societies in Africa. “We were farmers before scientists were born” Ghana small holder farmer. AGRA is envisaging on how farmers can be supported in addressing national development programmes. The worry that AGRA has is that the civil society has a tendency of being emotional and regularly hold the governments accountable. Are the governments accountable to the donors or to the ordinary citizens? AGRA is thus looking forward for civil society to work with them but clear policies need to be struck so that this would provide a clear pathway for how the two parties would be working together. Moreover, the capacity building of policy makers is also mandatory so that their response is seen.

AGRA’S STRATEGY ON ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE EFFECTS TO FARMERS (SMALL HOLDER FARMERS)

AGRA fully understands that the major drawback to attaining maximum agricultural produce is climate change, and for this, it is trying to input issues of climate change in the green revolution that it envisages to have for the whole of Africa. AGRA is envisaging having the farmers; especially the small holder farmers have a better understanding of this current issue. Following this civil societies present were tasked to identify key areas or issues that climate change has on small holder farmers.

Following the dire need to have the civil society to work with the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa, the civil society present were also tasked to bring out their own thoughts of how the civil society can work best with and AGRA and vice versa.

YOUTH INVOLVEMENT IN AGRA’S ACTIVITIES

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa feels it is the onus of the youths to develop a work plan of how they themselves can be involved in the institution’s policies and objectives and activities. It is however prudent to note that AGRA is very zealous when it comes to working with the youth. It is still in the process of strategizing of how best this involvement can be done sustainably. It is therefore us as youths to take the initiative of how this involvement can be done. AGRA is now partnering with different universities in Africa to extend capacity building to the students focusing mainly on the girl child. The universities in Africa that AGRA is working with to enhance this initiative are;

The universities that will offer PhD training are:

• Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania – will take students from the eight East and Southern Africa region

• Kwame Nkrumah University of Agriculture, Kumasi, Ghana – will offer PhD training to students from five countries in the West Africa region

The universities that will offer MSc training are:

• Makerere University (Uganda)

• Kenyatta University (Kenya)

• Haramaya University (Ethiopia)

• Bunda College of Agriculture (Malawi)

• University of Zambia (Zambia)

• University of Nairobi (Kenya)

• Bobo-Dioulasso University (Burkina Faso)

Please visit http://www.agra-alliance.org/section/cfa/ for more information on this.

PICTORIALS



From left, Winnie Asiti- Administration and finance coordinator AYICC-K, Joan Kagwanja- Policy Officer AGRA, Namanga Ngongi- President AGRA, Anne Makena- Communications PACJA and Joshua Minai- Projects and Programmes Coordinator AYICC-Kenya/ Intern PACJA.




Left: Joshua Minai stressing a point on how the civil societies in Africa would work best with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.







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