Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Annual general assembly (AGA) of the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development

30-31st January 2013. The Hague. Over 34 donor organizations met at the annual general assembly (AGA) of the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development. The agenda of the 2013 AGA focused on 'food, farmers and markets'.

The AGA is an opportunity for members to meet, exchange experience and plan and agree on their joint initiatives for the forthcoming year. This year’s AGA focused on Food, Farmers and Markets and provided a forum for Platform members to discuss and plan ahead to address critical questions around food security, smallholder farmers, market access and the role of the private sector and international community.

Drawing participants from among Platform member organizations, partners, academia and the private sector, delegates reviewed challenges and opportunities, strategies and new developments. Specific working groups addressed challenges to finance for smallholder farmers, enhancing nutritional content of food, climate-smart agriculture and commodity markets and trade.

First drafts of the review of the Joint Donor Concept on Rural Development are to be presented in February 2013, after more feedback has been gathered at the Platform's Annual General Assembly.

First keynote Professor Tim Lang
What are the (international, regional, national) policy goals that countries, rich and poor alike, - and the global community - should adopt to strike a balance between food security and equitable economic growth? What are the longer term (sustainable) policy parameters and how can both donors and recipient governments respond?

Prof Lang, said "Resolving world food systems problems is a governance issue, companies are mainly concerned about their supply. Underproduction is not the problem - it is mal-distribution".

Keynote by Sir Gordon Conway
Early lessons from the forthcoming research by Agriculture for Impact and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) were shared. Based on an in-depth literature review and over 30 case studies, 'Leaping & Learning: Strategies for Taking Agricultural Successes to Scale' shows that there are specific approaches that governments -- including national governments, regional partners, or development donors -- can embed into their work to ensure that smallholder farmers are more effectively connected to markets at scale.

Initial findings from Dr Steve Wiggins and his team at ODI show that there are some positive ways that governments can support smallholders to flourish. For example, they need to create a conducive environment by exploring access to domestic and regional markets (not just export markets), focusing on returns for smallholders, embracing the use of smart subsidies in some circumstances, encouraging smallholder farmer groupings, and ensuring that the private sector is not just included, but has a central role in smallholder agricultural development. A commitment to training and capacity building is also key.

Lamon Rutten, CTA
Findings from the conference on value chains for transforming smallholder agriculture held 6-9 November 2012 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Lamon Rutten, CTA).

Mobilising Aid for Trade to Enhance CAADP implementation
and private sector initiatives - How to strengthen bridging between agriculture, trade and environment? (Sven Walter, Global Mechanism and Francesco Rampa, ECPDM)
Francesco Rampa

Weak coordination between agriculture and trade policymakers and the private sector poses a challenge to boosting intra-African trade and the development of regional agricultural markets. Continuous policy dialogue at the continental, regional and national levels could ensure consistent planning and more integrated action, a new joint Briefing Note by the Global Mechanism (UNCCD) and ECDPM recommends. It points to priority areas to leverage synergies and pool public and private resources channeled through the Aid for Trade initiative, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme and related private sector initiatives.
At the Platform AGA, Dyborn Chibonga, CEO of the National Smallholder Farmers' Association of Malawi (NASFAM), stressed the importance of making African smallholders view farming as a business. Once this change in attitude is accomplished, market integration becomes the next goal.

More than 100 organisations have announced their support for the 'Enough Food for Everyone IF' campaign certainly hope so. The campaign is focused on getting politicians to tackle global hunger and malnutrition, calling on the G8 leaders to take the lead at the UK-hosted 2013 summit in June. The UK Prime Minister has promised a special event dedicated to food and nutrition security ahead of the G8 Summit, providing a critical opportunity to galvanise political engagement.

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