Mr  Ishmael Sunga of SACAU.              SOURCE: CCAFS’s Flickr...

Raising the voice of farmers at COP23

Mr  Ishmael Sunga of SACAU.              SOURCE: CCAFS’s Flickr...

Mr Ishmael Sunga of SACAU. SOURCE: CCAFS’s Flickr.

The diverse needs of farmers must be taken into account when dealing with climate change. This was one of the messages SACAU took to COP23 in Bonn, Germany, in November during their participation in side events. SACAU spoke at two events on Agriculture Advantage which was an initiative and collaborative effort between different organisations with the same mission: to transform agricultural development in the face of climate change.

SACAU was also part of these organisations which were led by the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). Mr Ishmael Sunga, CEO of SACAU, spoke about the farmerbased approach to climate action in agriculture at a closing session of this side event which called on countries, international organisations and businesses to take cognisance of the advantage offered by climate investments in agriculture, and urged stakeholders to come together for the transformation required within the sector.

This event was based on previous sessions which articulated the different dimensions of climate actions in agriculture. In his remarks, Mr Sunga stressed the importance of understanding farmers and their needs. “It’s wrong to think farmers are all the same. If projects are designed for farmers as a homogeneous group and they fail, don’t blame the farmer, blame yourself”, said Mr Sunga. “If we don’t invest time and money and resources in studying the basic things, we might not get anywhere. It’s not exciting but it might re-define what is exciting,” he added.

He highlighted the need to look at the farmer in his totality in the design of services and products for farmers. One such example is the bundling of agricultural insurance with other products that are essential for a farmer, which one of SACAU members is already implementing. Mr Sunga concluded by calling on stakeholders to get farmers’ inputs in designs of products and programmes. “Let it come from farmers themselves, and let us have the basic infrastructure to enable things to happen,” he said. Another side event in which SACAU participated was around scaling up private sector climate actions in agriculture.

Mr Sunga concluded by calling on stakeholders to get farmers’ inputs in designs of products and programmes. “Let it come from farmers themselves, and let us have the basic infrastructure to enable things to happen,” he said. Another side event in which SACAU participated was around scaling up private sector climate actions in agriculture.

This event sought to understand the role which the private sector can play to achieve goals set out within Intended Nationally Determined Contributions submitted by countries and private sector fora, building on the experience from private sector businesses, industry bodies and international financial institutions.


At this event, SACAU’s Project Officer, Ms Fhumulani Mashau, said there is a need for joining hands by the public and private sectors for investments in the agricultural sector’s response to climate change. Ms Mashau said there is a need for resources to absorb the shocks that climate change inflicts on small-scale farmers. She also said that farmers have important responsibilities too.

“Farmers themselves also have the responsibility to proactively assert themselves to get involved
in the design and implementation where they have an interest in climate action. Again, we’d also like to see the private sector to be obliged to consult with the farming community also in the design and implementation of climate action. We can’t do that without talking to each other,” she said.

Recognising the importance of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) models which can empower farmers in their decision making, while also increasing their resilience to climate shocks, she stressed the importance public private partnerships in infrastructural investments.

“Massive expansion of ICT network/ connectivity infrastructure to cover all farming areas where the majority of farmers located are required,” she said. Reducing the cost of data and insurance premiums could also result in increased uptake of ICT and other solutions to help farmers better respond to climate shocks.



Climate Picture

2017/18 Climate outlook for Southern Africa

Climate Picture

The 21st Annual Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF-21) met in Gaborone, Botswana, from 23-25 August 2017 to discuss a consensus outlook for the 2017/18 rainfall season over the SADC region. The outlook was formulated by climate scientists from the SADC National Meteorological/ Hydrological Services (NMHSs), and the SADC Climate Services Centre (CSC).

The summarised 2017/18 forecast indicated that the Southern African region is likely to receive normal to below-normal rainfall for most of October, November and December (OND) 2017 followed by normal to above-normal rainfall for January, February and March (JFM) 2018. However, the northern Democratic Republic of Congo and northern Tanzania, island states, eastern-most Madagascar and the southeastern part of the region are likely to receive normal to above-normal rainfall throughout the 2017/18 rainy season.

For the latter areas, the new season looks promising and presents a good opportunity to maximise agricultural production. For the rest of the region, however, there is a likelihood of receiving late rains. Therefore, the planting season could be delayed towards late 2017 or early 2018, a condition that could impact the crop and livestock sub-sectors in various ways.

While the regional outlook may inform national planning processes, the information provided thus far is not adequate for farm-level decisionmaking as the forecast is more probabilistic in nature and does not completely account for all the factors that influence regional and national climate variability, such as local and month-to-month variations. Therefore, farmers are strongly advised to refer to national forecasts, which are generally deterministic and more relevant to their local circumstances. National Service Centres are expected to provide regular short-term forecasts, which should be simplified and packaged in languages comprehensible to local users, particularly farmers.

The meeting also agreed that information should be disseminated through various channels that are accessible to farmers. Farmers themselves have a responsibility to be on the look-out for updates and respond accordingly. The event, in which the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) participated, was hosted by the Department of Botswana Meteorological Services, with support from the government of the Republic of Botswana, SADC, World Bank, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation, African Development Bank and other partners.

The detailed 2017/18 outlook can be accessed from: sarcof_21_statement_2017.pdf

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SACAU Young Agripreneurs’ Ambassadors elect their leadership

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Innocent Jumbe – Chair of SACAU Young Farmers’ Ambassadors

The SACAU Young Agripreneurs’ Ambassadors elected Mr Innocent Jumbe, a young farmer from Malawi, as their first leader. His deputy is Ms Ruramiso Mashumba of Zimbabwe. The two were elected after a day long discussion on the role and responsibilities of the SACAU Young Agripreneurs’ Ambassadors at a meeting during the visit to AGCO Future Farm in Zambia. The discussion was held as a follow up to the resolution taken at the SACAU Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Cape Town, South Africa on 26th May 2017 to establish the SACAU Young Agripreneurs’ Ambassadors. The ambassadorial team comprises two young (female and male) representatives from each of the SACAU members.

Each cohort of the ambassadors will serve for a period of three years. The group is diverse; representing young agripreneurs in crops, livestock, large commercial, smallholder commercial, agroprocessing and seed multiplication just to mention a few. Members of the ambassadorial team are affiliated to SACAU members in their respective countries.

These ambassadors will support and promote the SACAU agenda of developing the new generation of farmers in the region, and will be the voice and face of SACAU on issues of young agripreneurs.Other committee members are Ms Noi Selepe (Lesotho), Ms Celiwe Sukati (Swaziland), Mr Israel Hukura (Namibia) and Mr Henimpahasoavana Ndratopanantsoa (Madagascar).


The Spanish experience of farmers’ cooperatives

Members of the Namibian National Farmers’ Union (NNFU) met on 9th of May 2017 to discuss transformation of the non-title deed agriculture (communal farming) in the country. The meeting was held in the district of Opuwo on the eve of NNFU’s Annual Congress.

The meeting was graced by the Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation in Namibia and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Development who signed a Euro 20 million cheque for the transformation of agriculture in the northern region of the country. The funding is primarily aimed at transforming the subsistence farming into profitable agriculture by providing farmers with adequate technical and financial support.

The meeting was attended by representatives of farmers from all 9 regions as well as other stakeholders including the Namibian Agronomic Board; Agribusiness Development; Communal Land Development Project representatives; Agro Marketing and Trade Agency; Ministry of Land Reform; Agricultural Bank of Namibia and Meat Cooperation of Namibia. SACAU was represented by its Capacity Development Advisor, Mr Benito Eliasi, who made a key note address on the “Transformation of the non-title deed agriculture to create wealth and prosperity.”

Mr Eliasi called on NNFU to ensure that the sector is responding to the current needs and aspirations of government, consumers and stakeholders and most importantly the farmers who are always on the receiving end.


SADC can use cohesion to control Fall Armyworms


Example of devastation caused by the Fall Armyworm

Farmers are calling for urgent regional action to help control the infestation of the Fall Armyworm in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

FAO, SADC and the International Red Locust Control Organization for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCOCSA) met in Harare, Zimbabwe, from February 14th-16th to discuss the ongoing infestation.

Media reports indicate the worm has been identified in Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and possibly more countries in the region.

“The Armyworm is known to have a negative impact on agriculture, food security and trade, making Sub-Saharan Africa more vulnerable due to its high dependence on agriculture,” said the president of SACAU, Dr Theo de Jager. Staple crops such as maize, sorghum, wheat, soya beans, groundnuts and potatoes have been attacked.

Farmers are encouraged to regularly inspect their crops for eggs and spray pesticides straight after detection.  SACAU further encourages farmers to constantly communicate with one another during this season and share information on how to better handle the outbreak.

“After identification, correct steps towards measuring the extent of damage on crops as well as control measures need to be taken,” he said. Pyrethroid class insecticides and carbaryl material can be used as control regulators, however, it is better to control the worm in its early stage due to its ability to build resilience against pesticides.

“We believe that remedial methods should be integrated and informed by expert advice from farmers based in the worm’s native countries because unlike us, they have dealt with the pest for many years,” said Dr de Jager.

The regional workshop recommended the following:

  • There is urgent need for strengthening information and surveillance systems through sharing of information at national and regional levels and effective functioning of regional databases
  • There is need to improve on the quality of information and reporting protocols for plant and animal pests
  • Improvement of early warning systems through addressing fragmentation of national and regional information systems
  • Strengthening inter sectoral collaboration at country level
  • Establishing the necessary structures for rapid response to emerging pests and diseases
  • Revise SADC structures for coordination of technical and sub technical committees on transboundary pests and diseases
  • Need for research to fill information and knowledge gaps
  • Address lack of awareness and communication of risks caused by transboundary pests and diseases
  • Improve laboratory diagnostics and capacities SACAU urges farmers to be on the lookout for unusual sightings and alert their nearest farmers’ organisation and relevant authorities accordingly