March 30, 2012

Sorting out the what, how, and who for regional action on agriculture in Africa

Posted: 15:41 PM UTC

by Dolly Afun-Ogidan on March 30, 2012

In 2003, African Heads of States launched the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), as an effort to renew interest in and prioritize the continent’s agriculture agenda, as well as put food security objectives at the fore of national, regional, continental and global processes. Progress on CAADP has been reviewed every year since 2006 at the CAADP Partnership Platform meeting. During the Platform meeting,  various stakeholders who contribute to, have vested interest in or are associated with the CAADP process, have an opportunity to coordinate collective and mutual responsibilities for CAADP implementation.

This year, the 8thth Partnership Platform meeting will take place in Nairobi, Kenya, on 3-4 May. During this meeting, stakeholders will reflect on and discuss how “CAADP implementation can be accelerated for results and impact”. This theme cannot be more apt:  as CAADP nears a decade since its inception, it is the right time for stakeholders to go beyond process aspects of developing compacts and investment plans, to identify concrete actions for better-targeted and coordinated implementation. This is especially important for the regional dimension, which in general, has progressed at a slower pace than CAADP at the national level. Indeed, many countries have developed national compacts and investment plans, but complementary action at the regional level is yet to be articulated in most Regional Economic Communities.

Nevertheless, momentum around regional CAADP is gradually increasing. Regional actors and the development partners supporting them recognize the need for regional action on agriculture, and the potential CAADP has to mobilize support for and add value to such initiatives. Similarly, there is a growing awareness about the importance of improved coordination, coherence and complementarity between national and regional CAADP processes. The same is also needed for regional processes and actions on agriculture and other crosscutting sectors, such as trade, infrastructure and natural resources.

Taking this into consideration, development partners who support the CAADP process (the Development Partner Task Team) met on 5th March 2012 for an informal discussion to explore what actions are needed from CAADP stakeholders, especially development partners, and how this could be better coordinated to accelerate progress on CAADP implementation at the regional level. Updates on CAADP progress in specific Regional Economic Communities (COMESA, EAC, ECCAS, ECOWAS, IGAD, SADC) and findings from an ECDPM mapping of key opportunities and challenges for CAADP in certain regions helped provide a background for deeper discussion.

The ideas shared during this meeting were not presented as formal consensus, but could be used to guide discussion between development partners, Regional Economic Communities and other regional actors, such as regional farmers organizations during the 8thth Partnership Platform meeting in May.

There was broad agreement around the table that now is definitely the time to move from discussing basic facts and interesting ideas to: 1. identify concrete actions and priority investments; 2. decide on roles and responsibilities of the different actors, and; 3. improve coordination among development partners, and between development partners and Regional Economic Communities, for faster progress on regional CAADP.

To achieve the above points, development partners recommended that regular and targeted dialogue among stakeholders should be stimulated to discuss, agree on and delineate how and what they can contribute to the development and implementation of regional CAADP in each region, under the guidance of Regional Economic Communities. This could be a ‘roadmap’, a plan, of some sort, where RECs make a clear statement of what they intend to do in the next years to make regional CAADP work more effectively. Other actors can then, in consultation with the RECs, incorporate their support for the regional CAADP process. This ‘roadmap’ approach would ensure alignment of donor support with the RECs’ priorities. Further, it helps facilitate coordination of actions and interventions by the different actors. In a way, such ‘roadmaps’ already exist for some Regional Economic Communities, e.g. in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (where a regional CAADP compact is being developed) and the Economic Community of Central African States, the Economic Community Of West African States’ Strategic and Operational Plans, and the Child Trust Fund documents in other Regional Economic Communities. By building on these existing plans, Regional Economic Community Secretariats/ Commissions, development partners and other actors can jointly identify milestones, action matrix, timelines and responsibilities for region-specific steps, to leverage better and more coordinated support.

Suggestions for possible feature(s) of such a regional CAADP roadmap in each Regional Economic Community, include:

  • Increase investment in regional programs contributing to food security. This could also include increasing investments for existing cross-sectoral programmes, e.g. corridor development, SPS formulation, market information systems, etc;
  • Establish regional donor coordination groups where needed and/ or make existing ones more regular. For coherent support to different parts of Regional Economic Communities’ roadmaps, it is important to use existing engagement frameworks

  • Development partners should contribute to capacity strengthening for Regional Economic Community Secretariats where relevant;
  • Support better involvement of regional and national farmer organisations, business organisations and knowledge institutions in regional CAADP preparations;
  • As dialogue in the regions will be a continuous process, some development partners could support the organization of Regional Economic Community-specific Policy Dialogues in 2012. These could focus on identifying: investment actions to operationalize the regional Compacts/ Investment Plans; synergies between existing regional integration initiatives; funding gaps in national CAADP investment plans, as well as what complementary regional actions are needed, amongst others.
  • The NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency and Regional Economic Community Secretariats should communicate their strategies and arrangements on development/implementation of regional compacts as well as planned policy dialogues over the coming months.

Going forward to the 8thth Partnership Platform meeting, Regional Economic Communities and development partners can engage in further discussion on the next steps and possible regional roadmaps. In addition, other upcoming CAADP events and ‘moments’ should be used to explicitly address the actions necessary for boosting regional CAADP. This could include the ‘CAADP Visioning Exercise’, where the principles of subsidiarity and complementarity are used to clarify the role of different actors in the CAADP framework and how these principles can be operationalized in practice, especially for regional interventions.


Dolly Afun-Ogidan is Policy Officer Food Security at ECDPM.



This blog post features the author’s personal views and does not represent the view of ECDPM.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 BAGUMHE April 1, 2012 at 11:41 am

on my view i think this is a viable option for African development, the problem is how is it going to be a reality, how how does it differ with the previous agricultural strategies in Africa.


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