Wednesday, October 9, 2013

COMMENT:"...there is Hope of Africa’s Agricultural Integration! (2)"

From the Continental to the Regional, there is Hope of Africa's Agricultural Integration! (2)
'The Accidental Ecowas & AU Citizen':
By E.K.Bensah Jr

In the early part of the naughties, I was working for a development NGO in Brussels. Many of my days were spent data-mining all things development-oriented, and producing a newsletter everyday with colleagues. Even before I had the opportunity of becoming an NGO delegate at the NGO caucus of the UN Conference on Least Development Countries (LDCs), which was held in May 2001, I had been reading tomes of information about the EU's Common Agricultural Policy. The more I read, the more confused I becameexcept on one thing: the EU was spending a gargantuan amount of money subsidizing its farmers; the Americans were doing same. Conversely, in Africa, there did not seem to be any hope in sight that Africa had a plan around food security.

Of course, history has a different tale to tell us: we now know that in 2003, the Maputo Declaration was formulated and that the African Union (even at its infancy of having transmogrified from an OAU to an AU in 2002) was considering having a continental programme to address food on the continent.

Back in 2001, I spent every Thursday at work putting up a newsletter on regional dynamics, regional trade to our over 500-subscribers. That was a day I looked forward to: presenting to readers who had no idea about our regional economic communities that there was a group like ECOWAS with 15 member countries, and groupings like SADC with 14, etc, that were trying to formulate their own policy plans for a more self-sufficient Africa.

So it was great and insightful reading then that no less than the-then Executive Secretary of ECOWAS Lansuna Kouyate had emphasized that agriculture is paramount for West Africa's development 'as 70% of the sub-region's population resides in the agricultural sector.' I would also read that no less than the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) had had two other meetings, and had even had a third meeting with ECOWAS that would 'work towards harmonizing legislation and regulations, co-ordinate and integrate institutions dealing with agricultural matters.' One of the major outcomes of this FAO-ECOWAS confab/bilateral would be a meeting that would put on the table a concrete proposal for West Africa to have a Common Agricultural Policy for itself.

Ten years after Maputo, this makes sense, and I hope that come 2015 when ECOWAS celebrates 40 years of its existence, it will make important and significant space to commemorate 10 years of the passing of the policy by the Authority of the Heads of State of ECOWAS of the ECOWAS Agricultural Policy known as ECOWAP.

Understanding ECOWAP
When the Heads of State adopted the ECOWAP back in 2005, the idea was for it to be an instrument for the coordination of the CAADP (referred to in last week's article), which doubles as the agricultural component of the New partnership for Africa's Development(NEPAD) within West Africa. According to ECOWAS, this policy is supposed to have a 'modern and sustainable agriculture, based on the effectiveness and efficiency of family farms and the promotion of agricultural enterprises through the involvement of the private sector.' It continues that 'productive and competitive in the intra-Community and international markets, it must ensure food security and remunerative incomes to its workers'

The implementation of ECOWAS/CAADP is predicated on implementation of investment programs at the national level (NIP), as well as the sub-regional. The Regional Agricultural Investment Programme (RAIP) comprises six components, which include:

*Improvement of water management
*Improved management of others hared natural resources

*The sustainable development of farms
*Development of agricultural value chains and the promotion of the markets

*Prevention and management of food crises and other natural catastrophes

*Institutional strengthening, including support for the improvement of agricultural and rural policy and strategy formulation capacities; as well as communication

If one considers the fact that food and agriculture is a sector critical for intervention in West Africa, and identified by the Treaty establishing the creation of ECOWAS; as well as the fact that the revised treaty (1993) enjoins member states to cooperatein order to ensure food security; increased production and productivity; protection of prices of export commodities on the international market, one can begin to already see the significance of agriculture to the sub-region.

As I intoned last week, this is perhaps an example of a continental programme devolving to the regional and the national almost-simultaneously. We must begin, therefore, to also encourage our communicators and media-men to take interest in these processes.

Way forward on agriculture in Ghana, and Africa

A lot of the time, we complain that ECOWAS and the AU, and such-like institutions are not working. True, much of the time, they do not work because implementation of proposed strategies takes a scandalously-long time to translate into results that can be seen. We may not have seen how over a decade so much has happened around Africa's agriculture, but the narrative is there for all to follow and read. September 2013 will go down the annals of agricultural history in West Africa as significant for the manner in which plans were followed almost to the letter.

The opaqueness around the recruitment of those who will man and head the ECOWAS Food and Agricultural Agency notwithstanding, I believe ECOWAS Community citizens can pat themselves on the back for a job well-done by Africa's policy-makers. Let us break the myth of when we want to hide something from the Black Man, we put it in a book, and get to reading, discussing, and understanding the narrative of Africa's agricultural integration. CAADP is not going to go away until all 54 countries have signed onto it. So far, 30 countries have done so. There are plans for each of the seven other regional economic communities (RECS) establishing food and agricultural agencies for their respective regions. ECOWAS has led the way, but it must also lead the way in ensuring effective policy-implementation.

In the meantime, I hope as World Food Day approaches with increasing celerity on October 16, a conversation will be had in the media on Ghana's food security. The upcoming FAGRA might be an opportunity to broach the topic of CAADP/ECOWAS RFAA, and, finally, Farmer's Day should be used to re-visit the debates of Africa's food security.

Let's keep the agricultural integration narrative from the continental to the regional alive!
In 2009, in his capacity as a 'Do More Talk Less Ambassador' of the 42nd Generationan NGO that promotes and discusses Pan-Africanism--Emmanuel gave a series of lectures on the role of ECOWAS and the AU in facilitating a Pan-African identity. Emmanuel owns "Critiquing Regionalism" ( Established in 2004 as an initiative to respond to the dearth of knowledge on global regional integration initiatives worldwide, this non-profit blog features regional integration initiatives on MERCOSUR/EU/Africa/Asia and many others. You can reach him on / Mobile: +233-268.687.653.

Source: Emmanuel K. Bensah Jr.
Story from Modern Ghana News:

Published: Wednesday, October 09, 2013

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners.



Post a Comment


Blog Widget by LinkWithin