Sadc countries have to invest more in agriculture and increase access to inputs to boost output, experts have said, as the bloc missed the target under a continental plan to transform the sector.
The Malabo Declaration provides the direction for Africa’s agriculture transformation for the period 2015 – 2025, within the Framework of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) as a vehicle to contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the first 10-year Implementation Plan of Africa’s Agenda 2063.
Under the Malabo Declaration, African Union member states committed to report on a biennial basis, the progress in achieving the seven commitments of the Declaration—recommitting to the principles and values of the CAADP process; enhancing investment finance in agriculture; ending hunger in Africa by 2025; reducing poverty at least by half, by 2025, through inclusive agricultural growth and transformation and boosting intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and services.
Member States also committed themselves to enhance resilience of livelihoods and production systems to climate variability and other related risks; and strengthening mutual accountability to actions and results.
In a biennial review for the Sadc bloc held recently, Africa Union Commission’s Komla Bissi said the region needs to upscale its investment into agriculture.
“The region needs to consider the following: increase public expenditure to agriculture; increase access to agriculture inputs and technologies; enhance investment in resilience building; strengthen agricultural data collection and management systems to ensure reporting against all Malabo Declarations goals and targets in future,” Bissi said.
The overall average score for the region was 4.27, against the 6.66 benchmark for 2019 which makes the bloc off track to meet the CAADP/ Malabo commitments.
“This, however, represents a 6.9% improvement on performance when compared to the inaugural biennial review. None of the 12 Member States is on-track, which represents a 66.7% decrease from the number of countries that were on-track in the inaugural biennial review,” Bissi said.
Greenwell Matchaya, Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support Systems coordinator weighed in saying there was need to “increase access to agriculture inputs and technologies, increase the number of people with access to agricultural finance and support the development of an active private sector that sustainably provides agricultural finance and encourage foreign direct investments in the agricultural sector”.
He said there was need to convene national dialogue to reflect on and discuss the results of this Biennial Review report with a with a view to prioritising and developing policy and programmatic responses to speed up the achievement of the Malabo Declaration.
Sadc member states, Matchaya said, should integrate the biennial review data collection process into existing national and regional systems to ease data collection.
He said CAADP and the biennial review process “requires stronger political leadership and commitment”.
Matchaya said the biennial reviews are not an end in itself and the results should be used to change policies.
He proposed the convening of a regional dialogue to discuss country specific results and “how in the next round they can improve those results”.
According to a biennial review, Zimbabwe had a score of 4.58 which was up 43% from the score recorded during the last review in 2017. Four out of 49 countries obtained or surpassed the benchmark of 6.66 to be on-track toward achieving the commitments of the Malabo Declaration by 2025. These are Rwanda (7.24), Morocco (6.96), Mali (6.82) and Ghana (6.67).
Under the recommitment to the principles and values of the CAADP process, Zimbabwe—alongside Namibia and Seychelles—had lower scores relative to their scores in the inaugural biennial review report.
Under the commitment to end hunger by 2025, Zimbabwe—alongside Eswatini, Morocco, Seychelles, Tunisia, Mauritius, and Nigeria—that were on track to meeting the access to agricultural advisory services.
Zimbabwe fared well under the continental target for bringing down the proportion of the population that is undernourished to 5% or less, by the year 2025. Zimbabwe had 0.1% of its population undernourished, Morocco (3.4%), Nigeria (2.6%) and Tunisia (4.7%).
Agriculture is the backbone of a number of African economies. Despite being endowed with vast tracts of land, output has been low attributed to low funding and over-reliance on rain fed agriculture in an era of climate change.