ONE applauds AU leaders’ commitment to agriculture




ONE.org, an advocacy organization taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable diseases, has applauded African Union leaders for reaffirming their resolve to devote 10percent of their national budgets to agricultural development according to their 2003 Maputo Declaration.
This renewed commitment in the 2014 Malabo Declaration of the 23rd AU Summit of Heads of State and Government in Equatorial Guinea, compels member states to implement a number of essential policy reforms toward ending hunger and halving poverty in Africa by 2025. 
To meet these goals, African leaders re-affirmed their intention to devote 10percent of their national budgets to agricultural development and agreed to targets such as doubling agricultural productivity, halving post-harvest loss, and bringing stunting down to 10percent across Africa.
In her reaction to the announcement, Dr. Sipho S. Moyo, ONE.org’s Executive Director for Africa, said; “This is a defining moment for agriculture in Africa. During this official AU Year of Agriculture and Food Security, African governments have heeded the call of 120 CSOs, and over two million African citizens who signed ONE.org’s ‘Do Agric’ petition calling on them to invest more and better in agriculture. They have raised the bar with the Malabo Declaration, showing a real commitment to smallholder farmers and rural communities across the continent. This declaration is a clear demonstration that our leaders are committed to coming together on behalf of our farmers, our food and our futures.”
The new declaration prioritizes the operations of the African Investment Bank and responsible private sector investment, increases support for intra-regional trade, adoption of climate-resilient farming strategies, youth inclusion and employment targets, and mutual accountability for results.
These newly adopted measures form part of a set of joint recommendations put before the AU leaders by ONE.org and about120 civil society partner organizations in the months leading up to the summit, and reflect the voices of over 2 million African citizens who signed ONE’s ‘Do Agric’ petition.
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Presidents Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Yayi Boni of Benin, John Mahama of Ghana and Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger all received and supported the joint recommendations and petition ahead of the June  AU gathering.
President Kikwete took the stage to formally present them to the Heads of State at the summit. Delegations from Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Mali also received and supported the petition and recommendations at the summit. 
Meanwhile, African leaders failed to resolve the debate on establishing a common standard of measurement for the 10percent despite their strong commitment to implement the agreement.
The declaration also falls short on the closely related issue of improving budget transparency, which makes accountability an ongoing challenge given that agriculture spending is by its nature fragmented across various government ministries, departments and agencies. Another flaw in the declaration is the ambiguity in its support for multi-stakeholder participation in government-led agricultural development processes, fostering access to markets for small-holder farmers, investing in agricultural research and extension services, closing the gender gap, and improving land rights for the poor.
Audax Rukonge, Executive Director of the Agricultural Non-State Actors Forum (ANSAF) of Tanzania was nonetheless, optimistic about the new declaration. He said, “Not only does the Malabo Declaration solidify 2003 Maputo Declaration, but it further identifies policy interventions targeted at benefitting smallholder farmers and enhancing their productivity. The smallholder farmers are ready to help ensure food and nutrition security for all African citizens, to grow jobs and boost our economies – and this is possible, if our leaders can now move from the Declaration to its effective implementation.”
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