Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Agriculture best way to reduce poverty - NGO
By Kabanda Chulu in Ethiopia
Tue 02 Apr. 2013, 14:00 CAT

INCREASING agriculture investment is one of the best ways to reduce poverty in Africa, says ONE campaign deputy director Nachilala Nkombo.

Presenting a report of a research that measured investments in African agriculture at the just ended 9th Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Nkombo said Africa had the potential not only to feed itself but also to become a major food supplier for the rest of the world.

"Unlocking Africa's potential will also unlock its development. Farming is Africa's predominant lifestyle with more than two-thirds of Africans depending on agriculture for their incomes, so investing in this sector is one of the best ways to reduce poverty," Nkombo said.

"Yet Africa is far from realising its potential. For too long, Africa's agriculture sector has been neglected and African governments failed over many decades to invest adequately in the agriculture sector and to create a policy and regulatory environment in which smallholder farmers can flourish, which resulted in low crop yields."

However, Nkombo, who is a former programme officer at Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflections, said new commitments made by African leaders at the 2003 Maputo Declaration that resulted in the adoption of CAADP were a first step towards investing in agriculture.

"Following this leadership from African countries, donors stepped up their own commitments to agriculture and food security at the 2009 G8 summit and pledged US$22 over three years to support sustainable agriculture and food security," Nkombo said.

"But the Maputo financing commitments are off track, donors have disbursed only half of their commitments and African agriculture plans remain only about 50 per cent funded. Until these commitments are fulfilled, the full poverty-reducing potential of African agriculture cannot be realised."

Notable findings of the report stated that only four of the 19 African countries examined have met their Maputo declaration of spending 10 per cent of their national budgets on agriculture.

It stated that transparency was insufficient in all countries and urged African leaders to open their books to citizens.

It also challenged African governments to involve non-state actors such as farmers, private sector and civil society in the design, implementation and monitoring of plans.

The report further noted that most plans were missing a clear focus on women farmers and were not placing emphasis on nutritional outcomes.

"While women farmers contribute 50 per cent labour on farms in sub-Saharan Africa, women do not have the same access to credit or inputs as men and own only one per cent of land," it stated.

ONE Campaign is an anti-poverty civil society organisation, which is based in South Africa and funded and supported by the world's leading philanthropists and eminent persons.

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