WINDHOEK – Four COMESA member states are racing against time to meet an October 1 deadline to submit their investment proposals to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP).
Ethiopia, Uganda, Malawi and Kenya are in the final stages of completing the 13 steps of the African Union’s Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CADDP) so that they can apply for funds from GAFSP.
“This month, these countries are preparing to host the CAADP High-Level Meeting which brings together investors in agriculture development and food security from all over the world,” said Dr Nalishebo Meebelo, Country CAADP Process Facilitator for the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA).
After finalising their plans, said Meebelo, these countries will apply to GAFSP, a multi-donor fund administered by the World Bank, for money to boost their agriculture sectors.
They are hot on the heels of Rwanda which has already received $50 million from GAFSP. In 2007, Rwanda was the first country to sign a CAADP compact and since then the country has never looked back as it works to fulfil the four pillars of the programme, namely food security, land and water management, better market access for farmers, and increased agricultural research.
Only six countries have signed Compacts since Rwanda; four of these have now progressed to the final stages of a technical review and hosting business meetings.
“After October 1, other countries that will be ready to submit their proposals will have to wait for the next cycle,” said Meebelo.
“This [CAADP] programme calls upon governments to invest at least 10 percent of their annual national budgets to the agriculture sector,” said Meebelo. “And that this sector should grow by at least by six percent annually.”
But some delegates at Annual High Level Regional Food Security Policy Dialogue, taking place from 30 August to 3 September in the Namibian capital, Windhoek, are concerned that smallholder farmers will not be able to gain access to the GAFSP resources.
“How are farmers going to access adequate resources from government under this programme?” asked Zimbabwean farmer Khethiwe Mhlanga.
She was also concerned about civil society representation at CAADP’s policy meetings, fearing that governments might be taking decisions without wider consultation.
Meebelo admitted that there are gaps in CAADP’s implementation, such as inadequate participation by civil society.
“You need to know the names of focal point people at your respective countries so that you raise your concerns and try to find solutions to these problems,” she said.
She said the gaps should be addressed through educating the public about this programme so that governments can be held to account.