November 2014 convening on reforming smallholder agricultural policy

September 11, 2014

On November 24-25 2014, TrustAfrica hosted a convening of smallholder farmers and advocates and other stakeholders engaged in policy reform processes in seven African countries. Entitled Strengthening Smallholder Agriculture in Africa: Prospects for Mobilisation and Advocacy, the meeting took place in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

The convening was part of a multiyear partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supporting the emergence of a strong community of advocates who will hold governments to account for better policies regarding smallholder agriculture. It was heldin the wake of the AU Heads of States’ 2014 Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods which reaffirmed the 2003 Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP). More than a decade later, however, the CAADP targets—a 10% annual budget allocation agriculture and 6% growth rate for the sector—remain elusive, suggesting the need for sustained and proactive advocacy campaigns.

During its first phase, the TrustAfrica­–Gates Foundation partnership worked in six countries—Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda—to strengthen the advocacy ability of national and sub-regional networks. In the second phase the partnership will also include Burkina Faso.

Participants in the November 2014 convening included farmers’ associations and unions as well as nongovernmental organisations and coalitions with the capacity to help build and sustain a movement. The gathering aimed to help these groups to network and develop strategies to hold their governments to account for their CAADP commitments. Government partners also attended, as in past convenings.

In Ghana, Malawi and Uganda, our national partners have been at the centre of advocacy processes, often providing technical support to governments and monitoring the effectiveness of measures such as extension policy in Uganda and input subsidies in Malawi.

In addition to gatherings such as the November 2014 convening, second-phase activities will include the launch of a new mechanism for sharing best practices and technical assistance to strengthen participating organisations’ capacity to advance pro-poor agricultural policies. A limited number of grants will be given for evidence-based policy campaigns that combine research and advocacy on such topics as increasing national budget allocations to agriculture, supporting female smallholders and boosting the participation of smallholders in agricultural value chains.

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