Seychelles to attend major agricultural forum in Tunis


The CAADP Africa forum
Improving food security, nutrition, and incomes are the main goals of the CAADP. The African Union (AU) endorsed CAADP in July 2003 as part of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad). The main thrust of CAADP is at country level, where it helps in getting a wide range of stakeholders in agriculture on-board of the policy and planning process; and where implementation is supported by tailored technical advice.

CAADP is strongly committed to deepen the engagement of non-state players: It acknowledges that farmers’ organisations, agricultural or rural based civil society organisations and agricultural private players are instrumental in driving the agriculture-led growth agenda.

An important vehicle for harnessing the voice and the influence of non-state actors in CAADP is the Africa forum. The CAADP Africa forum is a platform of exchange for people working in agriculture across the continent. The platform offers the opportunity for participants from different countries to meet exchange and learn from each other’s successes, problems and best practices.

The platform is meant mostly for farmers and farmer representatives, but also for policy makers, manufacturers, traders, retailers, financiers, development workers and others who work in, with or for African agriculture. The purpose of the CAADP Africa forum is:

Sharing and learning among farmers, experts and decision makers from different agricultural sub-sectors, to foster the up scaling of best practices across Africa as an input into country driven development of the agriculture and rural sector.

The CAADP Africa forum is part of the CAADP framework, and is coordinated by the five regional farmer organisations (RFO) and their continental platform (Pafo) together with the Nepad Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA).

The Africa forum is held each year, either in the form of a platform at continental level or in the form of a series of platforms at regional level, with continental and regional platforms alternating in successive years: A continental forum in 2010 was followed by regional forums in 2011; the upcoming continental forum in 2012 will be followed by regional events in 2013.

The continental forum is held in a different African country each time. In 2010, the continental forum was held in Burkina Faso, the upcoming forum this year will be held in Tunisia.
Organisation of the continental forum is led by the RFO in charge of the region where the forum is held, supported by the Pafo, the other regional FOs and NPCA.

Regional forums are held in each of the five African regions and each forum is coordinated by the RFO for the region: i.e. The Northern Africa Forum is coordinated by UMAGRI; Western Africa is coordinated by ROPPA; Central Africa by PROPAC; the Eastern Africa Forum is coordinated by EAFF and the Southern Africa Forum by SACAU.

Each continental forum has a specific theme and subsequent regional forums elaborate this theme. For example, the 2010 Africa Forum looked at how smallholders adapt to climate change and subsequent regional forums in Eastern, Southern and Northern Africa  then discussed, among others, how these adaptation practices by farmers can be financed.

The role of farmer organisations within CAADP
Through the Africa Forum as a platform for and by farmer organisations, CAADP supports farmers more directly in their pursuit of sustainably improving food security and agricultural growth.
 The 2010 forum was a good illustration of the fact that farmer organisations are best placed to identify and bring together field-experiences. At the 2010 forum, presenters from more than 20 African countries (mostly farmers) contributed more than 50 success stories.

Regional and National Farmer Organisations, as well as their continental Farmer Platform Pafo, connect the CAADP framework to farmers in the field, as a ‘second leg’ next to the links of (i) Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and (ii) the national CAADP Focal Person in the Ministry of Agriculture.

The continental forum strengthens the link between CAADP and the regional level represented by RFOs and RECs. The regional forums strengthen the links between countries and the RFO responsible for the region as well as within countries between national FOs and farmers or producers (see illustration).

The 2012 CAADP Africa forum
The food and financial crises have not only put agriculture back on the agenda but have also turned the spotlight on farmer organisations (FOs) as a vital link between farmers and decision makers, or between producers and the market. Of course, the link between the farmers and the FO that represents them also needs to be strong for FOs to effectively lobby farmers’ needs and interests at decision-making platforms.

With international and national attention zooming in on farmer organisations, now is a good time to let these organisations weigh into the debate: What do African Farmer Organisations see as their role? As a player at national, regional and continental level? What is hindering them to operate at full potential? Which stumbling blocks would they most prefer to be removed? What can be done to improve their operations and based on this, what kind of support would strengthen their capacity as well as the accountability to their members?

Also important are the expectations of other stakeholders in terms of the FO role, their credibility and reliability – and what challenges other stakeholder face in working with FOs. To get a good overview of perspectives, this Africa forum needs to give a voice not only to the FOs themselves, but also those that (should) work with and benefit from FOs.

Thus, Pafo and regional FOs have decided to have as theme for the upcoming forum: Farmer Organisations: The vital link to equitable and sustainable agriculture growth in Africa.

Under this overall theme, discussions will be held and best practices will be presented that illustrate the successes and lessons in strengthening FO links (both upward and downward); in building FO capacities (both managerial and technical); in strengthening FO resources (both internal, e.g. membership fees, and external, e.g. financial support) and in the successes achieved by FOs in supporting farmers and agriculture production and growth.

Presentations by countries and experts will be divided in sub-themes, such as:

• Farmer Organisations and Agricultural Policy
• Farmer Organisations and agriculture research & development (R&D)
• Farmer Organisations, Producer Organisations and Value Chains
• Farmer Organisations & large-scale land investments
• Legitimacy and credibility of Farmer Organisations
• Supporting Farmer Organisation capacity
• South–South and North–South peer learning
The Seychelles Farmers’ Association will be participating with its project: Improving Farmers Access to Market in Seychelles.

Objectives of the 2012 Africa forum
The 2012 continental CAADP Africa forum aims to:

• Create awareness of the critical role of FOs in the development of agriculture in Africa;
• Exchange information on best practices in strengthening linkages between farmers and their FOs; and between farmers and other relevant actors (decision makers, traders, consumers) through FOs;
• Disseminate information and exchange experience on FOs role in linking farmers to the wider network of relevant actors in the agriculture and agri-business sector;
• Help Country Teams and Farmer Organisations use the CAADP framework as a vehicle in ensuring that farmers are better linked both downstream to consumers via output-markets as well as upstream to traders and input-markets or decision makers;
• Advance countries’ agricultural agendas in support of strengthening FO capacity and role in efficiently linking farmers to network of relevant actors in the sector;
• Identify strategies to address the needs for capacity development as articulated by the FOs.

Forum participants
The majority of participants at the forum come from one of following categories:

• AU and Nepad secretariat
• Regional Farmer Organisations and Pafo
• Knowledge-base institutions of the CAADP Process
• Regional Economic Communities (RECs)
• Country Teams

The Seychelles Farmers’ Association, which is a member of the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions, will through its chairperson, Serge Benstrong, be leading a team of five persons in the forum, from:

• Agribusiness
• Representative from the secretariat
• CAADP Focal Point
• Woman farmer
• Inter Island Farmers Representative

Duration and structure of the forum
The 2012 CAADP Africa Forum is a five-day event. One full day is set aside for field trips in the host country, which is Tunisia this year. Because of the North African venue, this year for the first time the forum will be tri-lingual: English, French and Arabic; and will be facilitated by three moderators.
Total number of participants to the forum is around 200 people.