Dr Wegayehu Fitawek from the Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development attended the consultation meeting on National Agriculture Investment Plans (NAIPs) status and Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP)- Food Systems organised by Africa Union Development Agency- New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA- NEPAD). The meeting was held for three days from 26 – 28 July in Dakar, Senegal. The meeting was attended by 34 African Union Member States (including the Minister of Agriculture, Permanent Secretaries, Food systems conveners, CAADP focal points), Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Farmers’ organisations, Technical Partners (Akademiya2063, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), World Food Program (WFP), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), UN-Food systems HUB, International Livestock Research Institute (CGIAR) and the private sector (from Nigeria).
Dr Wegayehu Fitawek attended the meeting on behalf of Prof Sheryl Hendriks to represent the academic side. She participated in the forum and supported the team as rapporteur for two parallel sessions.
The objectives of the high-level consultative dialogue and reflections were focused on:
- Exchanging information on the status of the NAIPs/RAIPs and NAIPs implementation in member states
- Interrogating and identifying implementation-related lessons (including implementation challenges, opportunities, drivers and levers, what blocked or enhanced implementation, etc.)
- Identifying what is required and how to enhance and position the NAIPs as key framework and pillar for alignment, harmonisation and coherence as well as coordinated drive in the design, planning and implementation of agriculture and food systems programmes
- Identifying key important priorities that will directly inform action plans and programme interventions already underway to address the issues of systemic capacities to plan, execute and evaluate-learn in advancing Africa’s agricultural and food systems transformational ambitions and the next CAADP cycle.
Countries and RECs shared the CAADP implementation experiences and best practices with regard to programme planning, resource allocation, monitoring execution and evaluation mechanisms. All country representatives mentioned that they are implementing the first, second or third NAIP generation agriculture plans consistent with the CAADP agenda and framework. In addition, most countries said that NAIPs are relatively well articulated on ‘what to do?’ ‘why to do it?’ and ‘by who?’ while the instruments for implementation are missing.
Some of the challenges raised by the country representatives are the lack of capacity in developing and implementing the NAIPs, low extension capacity to disseminate research, insufficient funding capacity, insufficient monitoring and evaluation techniques and lack of adequate knowledge management systems.
Based on the CAADP biennial review report, most countries have not attained the two broad CAADP commitments, targets of 6% annual growth in agricultural GDP and an allocation of at least 10% of public expenditures to the agricultural sector. Even if many countries recognise that agriculture is prioritised in the national strategies and plans with well-established sectoral reviews and evaluation mechanisms, the private sector engagement and partnerships are minimal. The other challenges mentioned in the planning, execution and evaluation are associated with a lack of coordination among different sectors, limited available information about (indicators and best practices), human capacity constraints, financial resources constraints for implementing the NAIPs and weak monitoring and evaluation systems.
In general, all countries agreed that CAADP is an essential driver for the planning, execution and evaluation of NAIPs. In addition, the biennial review has helped countries identify their weaknesses and improve their implementation performance.
The way forward and the role of AU institutions toward post-Malabo (the next CAADP cycle)
- Encourage more investment in research and development of appropriate technologies and innovation for agriculture development and transformation in the continent
- Create incentives for the private sector to invest in new technologies and innovations (emerging technologies e.g., gene editing, biotechnology, etc.) that helps to improve agricultural production and productivity
- Promote technologies that enable African agriculture to adapt to climate change. This should include the promotion of access to meteorological data
- Generate new knowledge on genomics, biotechnology, communication technologies, and creation of new institutions and governance mechanisms to support agriculture transformation
- Continue promoting and investing in strategic national, regional and continental competitive value chains to link farmers with producers to local, regional and global value chains by promoting appropriate technologies and innovations along the value chains
- Supporting smallholder farmer participation in the post-harvest technologies
- Promote a transdisciplinary approach that considers diversification of production to provide the diverse food baskets needed not just for better diets and nutrition outcomes but also for better resilience and environmental health by including crops, fisheries, poultry and livestock together
- Take advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and focus on trade policies, trade facilitation, trade-related infrastructure (both soft and hard), trade finance and factor market integration
- Mainstreaming food and nutrition systems in NAIPs and RAIPs is very important. However, most participants raised the issue of data and evidence-based information that shows where we are and what best practices we have as a continent to transform the African food system. Therefore, conducting technical reviews and evidence-based information is vital.
The CLAB Africa (https://www.futureafrica.science/index.php/hub/clab-africa) postdoctoral research conducted by Dr Wegayehu Fitawek will answer some of these questions related to climate change and the food system. The study will provide evidence-based information on what we have done so far and what best practices and indigenous knowledge we have to tackle climate change and transform food systems in Africa.