African Heads of State at the 23rd Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, in June 2014 adopted the “Malabo Declaration’’ to accelerate agricultural growth and transformation to lift Africa out of poverty.
The 2014 declaration was a formal commitment by AU Heads of States and Governments to provide effective leadership for efforts to achieve some specific goals by the year 2025.
The goals include ending hunger on the continent and tripling intra-African trade in agricultural goods, among others.
The African Union Commission (AUC), in collaboration with other international stakeholders in agriculture, recently converged on Abuja to deliberate on the ways forward in domesticating and implementing the initiatives of the Malabo Declaration to boost Nigeria’s economy via agriculture.
The efforts are particularly aimed at aligning Nigeria’s National Agriculture Investment Plan (NAIP) with the commitments of the 2014 Malabo Declaration of the AU, which seeks to cut poverty rates in half by 2025 via agriculture-led economic growth.
Team Leader of Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), Mr Ernest Ruzindaza, said that the Malabo Declaration in the agricultural sector was in line with the “Green Alternative Policy’’, aimed at boosting food security in Nigeria and AU member-states.
“African Union’s Heads of States and Government had in June 2014 made a firm commitment to accelerate agricultural growth and transformation to lift the continent out of poverty through the Malabo Declaration.
“The 2014 declaration was a commitment adopted by AU Heads of States and Governments to provide effective leadership for the achievement of specific goals by the year 2025.
“Specifically, they are committed to end hunger by 2025, double agricultural productivity and reduce post-harvest losses to half, while achieving agriculture-led industrialisation, among others.
“You may also be aware of our Africa Agenda 2063 — `The Africa We Want’ — and its first aspiration regarding a prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development,’’ he said.
Ruzindaza emphasised that AUC, including other stakeholders in agriculture, in response to the commitments of African Heads of States on the continent, had finalised CAADP implementation guidelines to help member states to integrate the commitments of the Malabo Declaration into their NAIP.
According to him, this is to review National Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plans (NAFSIP) in each member-state and identify priority programmes, in alignment with the Malabo Declaration.
Ruzindaza said that the review programme also included the establishment of a multi-year comprehensive expenditure plan with the Ministry of Finance of AU member-states.
He emphasised that NAIP remained the central tool for implementing the CAAPD, as it would translate continental and national aspirations into evidence-based plans with clear targets, budgets and mutual accountability.
The Nigeria Programme Officer, Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Dr Kehinde Makinde, said that the workshop also aimed at examining Nigeria’s agricultural investment plans via the Federal Government’s agricultural policy.
“African countries committed to work with what we called the Malabo Declaration, which essentially is to get Africa back on track in efforts to achieve food sufficiency and eliminate hunger among its people.
“African countries are bringing this idea into consideration by knowing the kind of investment planning process that would make this dream possible. The workshop is simply on the domestication of the Malabo Declaration,’’ he said.
Also speaking, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, commended the stakeholders for their efforts in seeking a comprehensive socio-economic development agenda for African countries.
The minister, who was represented by the Director of Agric Business Processing and Marketing, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Mr Azeez Olamuyiwa, noted that the initiative would facilitate the advancement of AU member-states in resource utilisation, innovative enterprise, food security and wealth creation.
“The workshop is an indication of the commitment of the AU, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Nigerian Government to the implementation of the CAADP.
“For Nigeria, the entire initiative is in accord with the government’s resolution to make agriculture a pivot for economic stabilisation, diversification and growth in the country.
Ogbeh said that successive administrations had continually recognised the strategic role of agriculture in national economic development through the agricultural policy of Nigeria, which promoted private-sector-led and export-oriented initiatives in agribusiness undertakings.
“Our strength in this task of revising the country’s National Agricultural Investment Plan (NAIP) is the enabling objectives and strategies of the 2016 Agricultural Promotion Policy,’’ he said.
On his part, Deputy Director, Planning Policy Coordination, FMARD, Mr Bate Sylvester, said that no African country had been able to fully domesticate the Malabo Declaration, adding, however, that Nigeria was in the process of achieving it.
“Nigeria is in the process of doing this; that is why this AU workshop is timely. CAADP is a regional intervention body which Nigeria has been a party to.
“We cannot tell you the level of our achievement with regard to the domestication of the Malabo Declaration at the moment but we on track,’’ he added.
The Permanent Secretary, FMARD, Dr Ahmed Shehu, said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration had been able to put together an Agricultural Promotion Policy that interfaced with the principles of CAADP and NAIP.
Represented by the Deputy Director, Information Communication Technology, FMARD, Mr Tunde Bello, Shehu expatiated that CAADP provided a disciplined approach to building an agribusiness system that would stem the tide of food importation in Nigeria and other African countries.
He said that the ministry had harmonised the CAADP themes of land management, water application, trade capacities, market access, food supply and technology adoption.
According to him, this is to intensify the commodity value chain concept of the 2011-2015 Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) to reposition the agricultural sector of the country.
“With the prevailing Green Alternative Agricultural Promotion Policy, there is the need to integrate the inter-related initiatives into the Nigeria’s NAIP as it pertains to the emerging issues of food nutrition, climate-smart agriculture and gender mainstreaming,’’ he said.
A facilitator, Prof. Adeolu Ayanwale, however, called for adoption of an inclusive process, involving all relevant stakeholders, to develop strategies and technologies to achieve NAIP objectives.
He emphasised that the provision of incentives for the constructive engagement of the private sector, civil society groups and the establishment of needed capacities would go a long way to achieve the NAIP objectives.
Ayanwale said that one of the cardinal objectives of the workshop was to establish a roadmap for the domestication of the commitments of the Malabo Declaration.
He, nonetheless, stressed that there would be a definite working document plan for NAIP, which other partners could relate with and which the Federal Government could work with to have a timeframe for the plan.
“The programme emphasises the inclusiveness of the private sector, if any country is to meet the objectives of the Malabo Declaration,” he added.
Okon and Attah are of the News Agency of Nigeria.
Okon Okon and Philomina Attah