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ECONOMY: CAADP: The African Solution for Net Export

Mohamed Fofanah

MAPUTO, Sep 3 2009 (IPS) - Rodger Phiri is a wealthy man. And the most amazing thing is that he made his money through farming.

'The government subsidy programme in Zambia is a success.' - Phiri Credit:  Zahira Kharsany/IPS

'The government subsidy programme in Zambia is a success.' - Phiri Credit: Zahira Kharsany/IPS

While many farmers across Africa have struggled to survive because of bad harvests, drought and bad quality of seed, Phiri is one of the few exceptions.

"The government subsidy programme in Zambia is a success," Phiri declared.

Phiri, who is also president of the National Association for Peasant and Small Scale Farmers in Zambia, explained that government has been giving farmers 50 percent seed and fertiliser subsidies.

Phiri grows maize, cotton, tobacco and groundnuts, but when he first started he only used a portion of his land.

"I started farming on five hectares of land but since I started getting the subsidies, I am now able to work on 20 hectares," Phiri said. "They have also been constructing roads in the rural areas were our farms are, and providing information and markets for our crops."

"Now I am exporting and making tonnes of money," he giddily stated.

The provision of subsidies to farmers means that the government of Zambia is implementing the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), agreed by African heads of states.

CAADP's goal is to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty through agriculture. African governments have committed to increase national agricultural growth rates to six percent per year through a commitment to allocate at least ten percent of their national budgets to agriculture.

They are working on this framework by focusing on four pillars: sustainable land management and reliable water control systems; improving rural infrastructure and trade-related capacities for market access; increasing food supply; and agricultural research.

Phiri pointed out that his government should increase budget allocation to agriculture. He bemoaned that the agriculture budget allocation was recently cut down from eight percent to six percent because of the global recession.

At the centre of all of this is the Food Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN). They are spearheading the coordination of the implementation of CAADP within Southern Africa at the national and regional level.

Dr David Kamchacha, the FANRPAN CAADP programme manager, said that the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa contacted the network to help with speeding up the process of agricultural reforms. They wanted FANRPAN to bring together governments, civil society, farmers themselves and researchers at a national level to work together.

"With this facilitation, some countries are already budgeting above the 10 percent benchmark set in Maputo," Kamchacha said.

However the success rate is not so high.

"Since its launch in 2003, there are only four countries that have reached full implementation stage, and we are talking about 19 countries that signed up to CAADP," Kamchacha revealed.

Kamchacha pointed out that it has been a challenge for FANRPAN to bring all the stakeholders in to work together in implementing agricultural reforms.

He said they will also impress this message during the FANRPAN Annual Dialogue programme going on currently in Maputo.

To surmount these challenges Kamchacha said: "We are trying to make all of them understand their role, and that if they do not play it right nothing will move for their countries. They should all look at each other not as antagonists but as partners."

Kamchacha urged: "Without an alignment to full implementation of CAADP, Africa will always be net importers and will never be net exporters."

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