JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, July 2, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- ONE.org (http://www.one.org) applauded African Union leaders today for solidifying their commitment to transforming Africa's agriculture sector by improving upon the 2003 Maputo Declaration, under which they committed to spending at least 10% of their national budgets on agriculture.
Photo 'Jakaya Kikwete petition delivery': http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1210 Jakaya Kiwete petition delivery
Photo 'John Mahama petition delivery': http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1211
The Malabo Declaration, coming out of the 23rd AU Summit of Heads of State and Government in Equatorial Guinea, commits member states to implement a number of essential policy reforms toward ending hunger and cutting poverty in Africa in half by 2025. To meet these goals, African leaders re-affirmed their intention to devote 10% of their national budgets to agricultural development and agreed to targets such as doubling agricultural productivity, halving post-harvest loss, and bringing stunting down to 10% across Africa.
Reflecting on the announcement, Dr. Sipho S. Moyo, ONE.org's Executive Director for Africa, said:
"This is a defining moment for agriculture in Africa. During this official AU Year of Agriculture and Food Security, African governments have heeded the call of 120 CSOs, and over 2 million African citizens who signed ONE.org's Do Agric petition (http://www.one.org/doagric) calling on them to invest more and better in agriculture."
The new declaration prioritizes the operationalization of the African Investment Bank, responsible private sector investment, increased support for intra-regional trade, adoption of climate-resilient farming strategies, youth inclusion and employment targets, and mutual accountability for results.
These newly adopted measures form part of a set of joint recommendations put before the AU leaders by ONE.org and about120 civil society partner organizations in the months leading up to the summit, and reflect the voices of over 2 million African citizens who signed ONE's Do Agric petition.
Presidents Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Yayi Boni of Benin, John Mahama of Ghana and Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger all received and supported the joint recommendations and petition ahead of the June AU gathering. President Kikwete took the stage to formally present them to the Heads of State at the summit. Delegations from Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Mali also received and supported the petition and recommendations at the summit.
However, despite a strong commitment to meet or exceed the 10% budget target, African leaders failed to resolve the debate on establishing a common standard of measurement for the 10%. The declaration also falls short on the closely related issue of improving budget transparency, which makes accountability an ongoing challenge given that agriculture spending is by its nature fragmented across various government ministries, departments and agencies. Furthermore, the declaration is not explicit in its support of multi-stakeholder participation in government-led agricultural development processes, fostering access to markets for small-holder farmers, investing in agricultural research and extension services, closing the gender gap, and improving land rights for the poor.
Audax Rukonge, Executive Director of the Agricultural Non-State Actors Forum (ANSAF) of Tanzania was nonetheless, optimistic about the new declaration:
"The smallholder farmers are ready to help ensure food and nutrition security for all African citizens, to grow jobs and boost our economies – and this is possible, if our leaders can now move from the Declaration to its effective implementation."
Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of ONE.org.
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