Innovation In Agriculture

Published on 18th April 2016

At the 11th CAADP partnership platform last year, we agreed in Johannesburg to “walk the talk” on Malabo. For this to happen, we need to take the steps forward about our collective commitment to accelerate implementation for results and impacts on the ground and the time to do so is now.

Notwithstanding the obvious inclination to delving more into strategizing for processes, my humble appear to distinguished participants and organizers is not to ignore the imperativeness of the development of appropriate financing tools for the development of agriculture in the continent. As you have noticed, out of the 07 main topics for our discussion in the next three days, 06 revolve around financing for transformation.

I am therefore inviting you pay a particular attention to
• Funding the African Agricultural Investment
• Agricultural Finance Landscape and Policy Environment
• Inclusive Access to Finance to empower Women and Youth
• Innovative Delivery of Financial Services
• Value Chain Finance
• Agriculture and Food Insecurity Risk Management

Let’s be clear on one fact: Africa can only make it happen if we collectively innovate and collectively agree to account for the resources injected and results and impact that ensue. Indeed, as a continent, with a community of destiny, we cannot afford to invest into our agriculture the same way we have been doing thus far. The first decade of CAADP has demonstrated just that. Getting the CAADP process right is OK, but it cannot be enough for the transformation to take place.

Why is it so critical for us to innovate now?

We must innovate because we need to design new and fit-for-purpose instruments that are able to help deal with the emerging trends, challenges and opportunities. The issue of Risk management is a typical example of where we need to propose innovative instruments that meet the needs of the countries. The remedies and solutions of the past may not work with the ever more complex issues of today.

We must innovate because our agricultural transformation agenda will not materialise unless we demonstrate our abilities to speak to the requirements of the structural transformation. Let’s be reminded that the Malabo Declaration is situated at the highest level of ambition in that it has placed agricultural development in the broader context of the structural transformation of our societies.

We must innovate because as a continent, we must demonstrate how proactive we are in injecting own resources into agriculture. For that, we need a radical change of mind-set. We need to stop being on the receiving hand of ODA because ODA has not such a great feature. We better be prepared today to as Africa has no option but to have a more inward looking and turn into self-reliance on domestic resources.

We must innovate because the Maputo era of CAADP, our focus was more on public investment which ended up creating a financial dependency to which only donors could respond. This is how countries came short in keeping their commitment to allocate the required quantum and mix of resources to agriculture.

We must innovate because the quality of investment matters. If it is agreed that implementing Malabo cannot be about committing to more planning and investment, but concrete implementation and innovative financing, we can no longer keep a tight focus on Investment Plans as witnessed during Maputo era.

If anything, the 10 first years of the CAADP have served for a real life test of our abilities create and maintain partnership around Africa’s priority number one: agriculture and food security. Having come this far, it makes sense to look back on the journey and gather some key lessons learned and mobilise them to inform our plan to improve delivery for results and impact on the ground.

Renewing partnership around CAADP will also imply that we apply our mind collectively to figure out whether the existing platforms can effectively be used to increase private sector dialogue; and hence investments.

Renewing partnership around CAADP could require that we seize the moment and come forward on the issue of allowing space for the private sector’s messages to be heard at the national level as part of the agenda setting Renewing partnership is not only important, but a must for Africa. Let’s face it. We have done reasonably well. However, the road still ahead of us is still long while the emerging trends and challenges force us to look at innovative ways to improve our partnership structures.

Renewing partnership around CAADP would also require that we apply our minds on whether the prevailing architecture remains informal or whether try and formalise it. Then comes a question “is there any value addition for having more formalized CAADP partnership structures?” As easy as this might sound, the reality could be much complex, especially now when we gearing our efforts towards supporting implementation on the ground.

Renewing partnership around CAADP would imply we make a deliberate effort to involve famers not only in agenda, but in the actual running of the business of agriculture.

Allow me now to speak from my heart about a particular constituency of CAADP: the farmers. We should not get carried away by the rhetoric and jargon of the likes of agriculture transformation and forget that farmers are at the heart of making is happen. In fact, their needs are very concrete and must be addressed because their success and happiness that will come with would mean a public good for all. Our resolve to be bold on key issues such as special and differential treatment, regulation of markets, norms and property rights for instance, in the sense of a better defence of African interests, should not be an element of fashion. We have to be real in reinforcing the regulatory role of economic measures that are conducive to increased confidence for farmers business as our objective. We cannot over-emphasize how central their role and by innovating in the way we partner with this special constituency, we will prepare the ground for a sustainable transformation of our agriculture.

During the PP last year, I contended that “partnering” means mainly fostering the voice of stakeholders who will be actors of the transformation and need to reinforce their voice in the change of game rules and not multiplying conferences and seminars with the traditional clients of CAADP.

My key messages

Message # 1: We can only ascertain the value for money if we resolve to move to concrete implementation on the ground. In the face of process fatigue, the onus is on us to collectively rally around and align to the government efforts at the national level take NAIPs from the shelves to the farm. We have to innovate for this to materialise. We must innovate in applying existing investment instruments to will allow increase uptake of financial resources.

Message # 2: Leapfrogging from where we are at the moment will require an increased and bold focus on key reforms in economic policies and in institutional capabilities at the country level. We will be looking forward to renewing our partnerships on how we do this to respond to the needs expressed.

Message # 3: A renewal of partnership engineering that does not factor in the vast majority of stakeholder cannot be a genuine transformation. In the Malabo decade of CAADP, partnership should mean something beyond relationship between the African Union Commission, the NEPAD Agency and the development partners. The basis for partnership will have to be broadened to include other key players voice in the new architecture should be more prominent than ever before. We should not pay lip service to the notion of inclusion.

By Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki
CEO, NEPAD Agency.

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