Bringing CAADP to the regions

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    There is much that can be and is being done at the regional level to support CAADP implementation and to promote sustainable agricultural development in Africa. Nevertheless, the regional CAADP implementation agenda faces notable challenges. 

    Implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) takes place largely at the national level through the development by African countries of National CAADP Compacts and Investment Plans. But for CAADP to be effective in promoting food and nutrition security and sustainable agricultural development across the African continent, CAADP implementation at the national-level needs to be supported by actions and policies at the continental and regional levels.

        Regional coordination, in particular, is increasingly recognised as key for boosting Africa’s agricultural sector. Regional integration and the development of regional agricultural markets are considered particularly vital, as most national markets in Africa are too small to attract the levels of investment required to bring transformational change to the sector. Furthermore, Africa’s regional economic communities (RECs) are ideally placed to address the barriers to agricultural trade between African countries that hamper attempts by the continent’s agricultural producers to break into new markets. 

    Regional CAADP Compacts and Investment Plans: The state of play

    CAADP protocols require Africa’s RECs to develop Regional Compacts detailing areas of joint collaboration and desired investment, and defining the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders. These Compacts are meant to address obstacles to food security and agricultural development that are transnational in nature. RECs are also tasked with developing Regional Agricultural Investment Plans (RAIPs) to give effect to the Regional Compacts. As of the beginning of 2015, Africa’s RECs are at various stages of developing and/or implementing their Regional Compacts and RAIPs.

        The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) signed its CAADP Compact in November 2014. The process to design the COMESA RAIP was re-launched just prior to that in October 2014 and is currently underway.

        The East African Community (EAC) has developed a Draft Regional Compact and is in the process of seeking validation for this draft from national level stakeholders prior to a regional validation workshop.

        In Central Africa, the Economic Community for Central African States (ECCAS) adopted its CAADP Compact in July 2013 and validated its RAIP in September of that year. In October 2014, ECCAS Ministers of Agriculture endorsed the RAIP and approved the Regional Agricultural Policy that had been in development since 2008.

       The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is currently implementing the region’s agricultural policy (ECOWAP), which was adopted through the Regional Compact of 2009, and its RAIP for 2011-2015, which was finalised in 2010. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) developed its CAADP Compact simultaneously with the IGAD Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI), which aims to end drought emergencies in the Horn of Africa by developing a mid- and long-term response to current and future crises. The IGAD CAADP Compact was validated in May 2013 and signed in October 2013, while the IGAD RAIP is currently in development.

        The Southern African Development Community (SADC) never formally launched a regional CAADP Compact preparatory process. Instead, SADC developed a Regional Agricultural Policy (RAP), which, it was eventually agreed, will serve as the basis for the SADC CAADP Compact. To that end, the RAP was endorsed in June 2013 as a fully ‘CAADP-compatible’ framework. A draft SADC Regional Compact has now been developed, while the SADC RAP Investment Plan is currently being prepared. 

    Implementing the Malabo Declaration: boosting trade and promoting partnerships

    The Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods (Malabo Declaration) adopted by African heads of state and government in June 2014 reconfirmed the commitment of African countries to the principles and values of the CAADP framework. Through the Malabo Declaration, African leaders undertook specific commitments to (a) triple intra-African trade in agricultural goods and services by 2025 and (b) promote inclusive public-private partnerships (PPPs) for priority agricultural value chains with strong linkages to smallholder farmers.

        Promoting greater intra-African agricultural trade and fostering inclusive PPPs around specific value chains are two mechanisms for supporting CAADP implementation that RECs are already using. Boosting intra- and, to a lesser degree, inter-regional trade in agricultural (and non-agricultural) goods and services is generally a major policy goal of Africa’s RECs. In ECOWAS, for example, significant emphasis has been put on promoting intra-regional agricultural trade so as to contribute to regional food sovereignty, an explicit objective of the ECOWAP. Indeed, some view the recently completed ECOWAS common external tariff (CET), which exhibits relatively high tariff protection for agricultural products, as a potential instrument for boosting intra-regional trade in agricultural goods.

        In SADC, meanwhile, non-tariff barriers (NTBs) have been identified as particularly significant obstacles to boosting intra-regional agricultural trade, but many of the most pervasive NTBs affecting SADC agricultural trade, such as those relating to transit trade, customs documentation requirements, differences in axle load limits and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) requirements would be addressed if existing provisions in the SADC Treaty and SADC Protocol on Trade (and its annexes) were properly implemented. In other words, at least some of the tools for boosting intra-SADC agricultural trade are already in place.

        In the area of partnerships and value chains, some RECs are already promoting regional agricultural value chains and the inclusive multi-stakeholder partnerships that are crucial for ensuring that the benefits of such value chains are widely shared. In COMESA, for instance, various initiatives aimed at organising inclusive partnerships around agricultural and/or agribusiness value chains are being explored. The COMESA Business Council’s Local Sourcing for Partnership Project seeks to create sustainable partnerships between corporates and SMEs in the food and beverages, hospitality and retail sectors. COMESA is also in the process of designing, as an early deliverable of its Regional CAADP Investment Plan, a sector-specific, multi-stakeholder dialogue platform to mobilise political and business interests in order to address policy constraints on intra-regional trade and investment along regional value chains.

    Challenges ahead

    These and other regional initiatives, instruments and processes have the potential to contribute positively to efforts to promote the transformation of African agriculture. Nevertheless, efforts to strengthen the contribution of regional processes and institutions to greater food and nutrition security in Africa and the sustainable development of African agriculture face many challenges. These include: building sufficient capacity in regional institutions, ensuring genuine inclusivity in partnership platforms and avoiding having these captured by narrow commercial or national interests and addressing the lack of coherence that exists between some regional and national initiatives, the tendency by many national policymakers not to prioritise regional dynamics and the tensions that often arise between REC member states when particular national interests are at stake. If regional policymakers can overcome these challenges successfully, then the regional level will be fruitful ground for supporting CAADP implementation and developing policies and programmes to promote food security and sustainable agricultural development in Africa.   

     Sean Woolfrey is a Policy Officer at ECDPM.  

    This article was published in GREAT insights Volume 4, Issue 2 (February/March 2015).


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