The following events are planned for November:

1. Southern African Cotton Producers Association Steering Committee Meeting: 08 November, South Africa

2.  Closing Workshop of the Support to Farmers Organisations in Africa program: 08-09 November, South Africa

3. Board Meeting: 03 November 2018, South Africa

4. Consultation meeting with land based organisations in the region: 26 – 27 November, South Africa

SADC meets international partners in the agriculture sector


The Southern African Development Community (SADC) organised a consultation meeting with its International Cooperating Partners (ICPs) in Gaborone from 11 to 12 October 2018.

The consultations that were hosted by the Food Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) Directorate provided an opportunity for both SADC and ICPs to update each other on new developments including SADC decisions and other agricultural related global developments. Delegates were informed that the SADC Council approved the Regional Agricultural Investment Plan (RAIP) in March 2017 and that the RAIP is premised on the SADC Regional Agricultural Policy (RAP).

Execution of RAIP is expected to enhance agricultural production, productivity and competitiveness of crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries and wildlife as well as support trade, industry and food security in the region. In addition, regional and international trade and access to market for agricultural products (crops, livestock and natural resources) is expected to improve.

One of the issues that stood out during the meeting was the SADC Water, Energy and Food Security (WEF) Nexus Dialogue Project which is aimed at supporting the transformation required to meet increasing water, energy and food security demands in a context of climate change in the SADC region through the development of a truly integrated nexus approach.

This approach was approved by the SADC Council and FANR was given the mandate to formalise the WEF Working Group within the Secretariat to drive the coordination and reporting mechanisms to respective Ministers through sectoral and/ or joint meetings. FANR will also mobilise resources to build capacities of member states for them to improve their skills to enhance sectoral coordination in building water, energy and food security.

Phase one of the program is aimed at helping regional organisations and their member states apply a nexus approach in the formulation of multisector policy recommendations, strategies, action plans and investment programmes. This phase will also identify concrete investment projects – with a focus on multi-purpose water infrastructure – which could be funded under Phase II.

Country assessments on the WEF have been completed for all the 15-member states where opportunities for WEF nexus approaches were identified. Regional governance and stakeholder analysis is under way and progressing very well.

A draft outline of the SADC regional WEF Nexus Operational Framework and project identification and screening criteria have been developed and a list of potential projects for screening using WEF nexus tools is being consolidated. It is important that farmers’ organisations at all levels follow closely these processes at national and regional levels.

The AGRF Communique

(Picture: AGRF) President H.E Kagame and delegates at the Eighth African Green Revolution Forum

(Picture: AGRF) President H.E Kagame and delegates at the Eighth African Green Revolution Forum

The Eighth African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) was held in Kigali, Rwanda, from 5 to 8 September. The Forum was hosted by H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda and 2018 Chairperson of the African Union. Other co-hosts were the 17 members of the AGRF Partners Group, which include SACAU and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) as the AGRF Secretariat.

The Forum was attended by 2,800 delegates, including current and former heads of states, from 79 countries. There were more than 46 sessions and 350 speakers. The theme of the AGRF was Lead, Measure, Grow: Enabling New Pathways to Turn Smallholders into Sustainable Agribusinesses. It recognised that Africa is on the move with many nations pushing to achieve middleincome status and a few others aspiring for high-income status. But achieving these aspirations requires innovative and evidencebased leadership across the agricultural sector.

The discussions highlighted, among others, the technology, innovations, policies and institutions that can lead to an economically and environmentally sustainable African agriculture transformation. Delegates discussed how to equip farmers with what they need to succeed and connect them to stable food systems that can translate their abundant harvests into a wider assortment of affordable, nutritious food for African consumers.

The 2018 Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR) “Catalysing State Capacity to Drive Agriculture Transformation” was also launched during the official opening. It places a central focus on state capability in achieving desired outcomes from agriculture. The Forum paid tribute to H.E. Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General, who sadly passed away in the month leading up to AGRF 2018. He is the one who called for a uniquely African Green Revolution that resulted in the formation of AGRF and its secretariat, AGRA. Leaders applauded the launch in January of the Inaugural Biennial Review Report and African Agriculture Transformation Scorecard (AATS), which the African Union presented as coming through on commitments it has made to Heads of State and the sector. It is the first such report on the implementation of the 2014 Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agriculture Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods.

The report revealed that 20 of 47 African Union Member States are on track to achieve commitments made in the 2014 AU Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Leaders commended the willingness of all 47 countries to provide a thorough and transparent accounting of areas where they are progressing and areas that still need attention so that they can learn from each other and continuously improve.

However, leaders also noted that current progress is still insufficient to achieve the vision forged in the Malabo Declaration. They sought out fresh approaches and commitments that can supercharge the agriculture sector and unleash the full potential of Africa. Several major outcomes and action agendas were embraced during the AGRF 2018.

Specifically, the Forum endorsed significant commitments around securing new agribusiness investments, engaging new development partners, increasing regional trade in agriculture commodities, and embracing evidence-based leadership. The 2018 Africa Food Prize was awarded to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the first institution to receive the prestigious award

It was selected for its leadership in generating agricultural research and technologies that have improved food security, nutrition, and incomes for millions of people across Africa, and for its consistent innovation to find new solutions to the continent’s most pressing challenges of youth unemployment, climate change, and pests and diseases.

The launch of the new Fall Armyworm Research for Development (R4D) International Consortium that brings together 35 public and private sector institutions to create a coordinated strategy and consolidate millions of dollars in new support to fight an invasive plant-eating insect that could cause US $6 billion in damage to maize, sorghum and other African food staples.

For the full AGRF communique and more information, contact: or +254 203675000

Role of institutions in facilitating the adoption of CSA


Emperical evidence suggests that institutions play a pivotal role in facilitating the adoption of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices on a wide scale.

Institutions and institutional arrangements serve important functions in information gathering and dissemination, resource mobilisation and allocation, skills development and capacity building, and creating linkages between decision makers and several other entities, including the farmers’ constituency.

This was one of the main discussion points led by SACAU in a public dialogue convened by the National Council of the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) in September 2018 in Swakopmund, Namibia. In attendence were representatives from various stakeholders, including the government; private sector; research institutions; finance institutions; local and international development agencies as well as NNFU council members.

Convened under the theme, “Climate Smart Agriculture: The future for communal farmers in Namibia”, this session sought to enlighten participants on their individual and collective roles within the CSA institutional set up. The institutional environment, which is broadly defined by prevailing legislation, policies, rules and regulations, programmes as well as organisations providing CSA related goods and services in a particular country or region, determines whether CSA practices will be implemented effectively or technology will be available and accessible to farmers.

More importantly, if adopted, the institutional environment will determine whether CSA practices and/or technologies will bring positive changes to the farmers’ livelihoods as ground implementers. Farmers’ organisations (FOs) are part of the CSA institutional set up, and have a strong potential to consolidate and disseminate innovations developed by farmers themselves and ensure that farmers’ priorities are represented in the broader agricultural development agenda.

In addition, FOs are expected to conduct their own research (individually or in collaboration with others) and use generated facts to advance their advocacy for better CSA related policies and investments.

Regional dairy associations meet to discuss issues affecting the performance of the sector


SACAU co-hosted the regional dairy platform meeting with We Effect from the 29 to 30 October 2018. The meeting has become part of key annual activities aimed at improving production and productivity of the members of dairy associations at farm level.

The proper management of dairy farm activities is the starting point in ensuring that our countries and indeed the region can be competitive and become globally significant in trade of dairy products. The meeting, which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa drew participation from eight countries in the region. Apart from presentations of country situations from the dairy associations and national farmers’ unions that were represented at the meeting, presenters that came to present on specific dairy sector related topics were organised.

The focus areas were: dairy sector outlook, climate change, intra-regional and global trade of dairy products, technological advances in the dairy sector and the schools feeding/milk programme. The presenters were drawn from organisations with expert knowledge of the sector and they provided insights on current trends based on research findings.

The associations raised concerns on challenges negatively affecting their production among them, access to finance, the low farmgate price of milk, milk producers being price takers, policy matters, and their own capacity constraints. The presentations and deliberations also highlighted a number of key issues of importance. The dairy sector remains a highly risky business and milk producers need to be vigilant and know how to harvest the highs and manage the lows.

The measurement of inputs and the outputs will assist the milk producer to do a proper assessment of the viability of the dairy business therefore recordkeeping becomes imperative. The smallholder dairy farmer is operating on the margin, efficient use of resources is unavoidable if the farmer is to sustain the business. The unit of production, in this case, the dairy cow is the most important asset the dairy farmer has, and the farmer must ensure that the animal is well looked after for it to be productive.

The agricultural sector and the dairy sub-sector specifically are now a science, knowledge, data and technology driven business, so the farmer needs to progressively adopt affordable modern methods of production to avoid being left behind. The dairy farmers should be involved in initiatives to promote the consumption of milk such as
the schools milk programme as it presents opportunities for smallholder dairy producers to enter mainstream formal markets.

Climate has been changing over time, it is only now that we are beginning to see the impact of unfavourable weather patterns on agricultural production systems. The dairy farmer should therefore use a multi-faceted approach such as use of drought tolerant feed plant species, for instance the spineless cactus and many other types available.

The level of youth participation in the dairy sector was a bit worrying and the regional dairy associations should be devising ways of promoting the involvement of a young generation of dairy farmers.

Farmers voice their concerns on regional efforts towards scaling CSA through CA

Delegates attending the Second Africa Congress on Conservation Agriculture (2ACCA) in Johannesburg, South Africa

Delegates attending the Second Africa Congress on Conservation Agriculture (2ACCA) in Johannesburg, South Africa

In most high-level agriculture deliberations, the farmers’ voice is often neglected yet the outcomes of such events expect farmers to make substantial investments towards attaining set targets. The Second Africa Congress on Conservation Agriculture (2ACCA) held in Johannesburg, South Africa in October 2018, took an unfamiliar turn by hosting a Farmers’ Forum, which deliberated on challenges faced by farmers and existing opportunities they may explore in attempting to scale Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) through Conservation Agriculture (CA).

Held under the theme, “Making CSA real in Africa with CA: Supporting the Malabo Declaration and Agenda 2063”, SACAU participated in the deliberations alongside the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF).

Some of the contributions made were that as part of the adoption process, farmers undergo a period of learning, adaptation, and continued use. Throughout this process, experience has shown that farmers find themselves exposed to several forms of risk, which if not shared among different actors along the value chain, may see farmers not adopting CA practices as expected or disadopting after a few years.

It was also highlighted that getting into a new paradigm tends to be knowledge intensive and can be overwhelming for farmers. Hence, CA promoters need to devise innovative means of creating awareness and disseminating relevant information to the different segments of farmers. Furthermore, considerable research has been done on the effects of CA on a number of societal priorities (e.g. gender, labour, and food security), but still the rate of adoption remains relatively low. Perhaps, there is need to provide more evidence on the economic returns of CA at farm level beyond the environmental benefits.

The contributions also touched on the need for the public sector to ‘get the basics right’ (e.g. by providing better road networks, communication infrastructure and schools.) to facilitate private sector investment in CSA/CA related infrastructure.

Finally, farmers’ organisations themselves should be part of the scaling up infrastructure.For instance, apart from carrying out their advocacy function, they can facilitate the establishment of CA farmers’ networks, develop profiles of CA champions and create a platform to enhance the exchange of ideas among farmers.

Is it possible to achieve food production without compromising the environment?


“Is it possible for African farmers, already faced with low yields and high risks, to balance increased production with protecting the environment?” asks Mr Ishmael Sunga, the Chief Executive Officer of SACAU in an article he wrote for Farming First. The article, titled “Science-based, smarter farmer farming for Africa” is about the importance of using data to mitigate the effects of climate change on agriculture.

The article asserts that it is indeed possible for farmers in Africa to strike this balance. Foremost is the adoption of good agricultural practices which enable farmers to do more with less or with the same. This however, should go together with the necessary innovations such as improved seeds and animal breeds.

It also highlights the need to increase the level of awareness, understanding and appreciation of farmers, consumers and society at large on the effects of the current production models on the environment as well as incentivising farmers to invest in the long-term sustainability of their farms.

The article goes on to call for investment in backbone Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure and rural energy for connectivity. This is in recognition of the importance of ICT for wide scale dissemination of information and knowledge to farmers and for on-farm operations. With some of these digital instruments, data is collected, which in turn assist in determining the amount of fertiliser to be applied to reduce loss in the environment, for instance.

Adapted from article titled “Science-based, smarter farming for Africa” published on 11 October 2018 on

The power of principled negotiation

Participants attending the Principled negotiation training

Participants attending the Principled negotiation training

It is absurd that people fight, destroy, burn bridges and create a lot of unnecessary animosity between themselves and thereafter, sit around the table and try to find each other again. Selfishness, competition, greed and self-aggrandisement have led the world to become the mess it is today.

The ability to negotiate and the necessary preparation for the actual negotiation are important life skills that can make families, organisations, companies and even countries successful in their day to day undertakings. In agriculture, contracts and partnerships have become increasingly unavoidable and are not a bad idea if they are agreed upon and sealed on equal terms.

As farmers, we need to stand our ground and push our partners in business to realise and recognise that our relationships are or should be mutually beneficial. We are equal partners and our role as producers cannot be substituted by any other arrangement. So, our power lies in our ability to negotiate and capacity building in that regard should be part of our annual activities.

Recognising the importance of this skill, SACAU in partnership with We Effect hosted a principled negotiation training workshop from 15 to 17 October 2018 in Boksburg, South Africa. The training was ably conducted by Professor David Venter, a renowned expert in negotiations. The three “Cs” namely, capability, competence and confidence in negotiating were the take away message for the participants. Participants also heard that in negotiations there are two important things that empower the negotiator, namely; information and time. They also learned that negotiating creates value rather than destroy it.

The corner posts/ deal parameters of negotiation are aspiration base, the real base, the best alternative to a negotiated agreement and the first offers. The aspiration base is what we want to achieve and quite often we aspire too low. The real base is that point when a negotiator calls it quits because there will not be any reasonable gain in pursuing the deal. When one walks away, they do not necessarily stop the idea, they walk away to the best alternative and this best alternative must always be part of the planning and preparation for negotiations.

The “first offers” is the value or price a negotiator pitches at and this number must always be evidence-based from market research or intelligence. There are also danger signs or points of caution when negotiating a deal. Assumptions, mental flexibility, relationships, perceptions and framing are critical elements to be considered because they can easily make or break deals. In addition, when negotiating, a conducive climate for the negotiation process to take place in such a way that positive results are achieved for both parties needs to always be created.

The Professor concluded the training by showing a video of Dr. Robert Cialdini, currently the world’s most sought-after social scientist, summarising the six rules of human behavior and how one can get people to say yes to requests. With stunning examples, Dr. Cialdini captures one’s imagination as he deals with each of the six rules, namely; reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency/ commitment, consensus and liking.

The participants in this year’s principled negotiation training were drawn from SACAU’s members and other We Effect partners. The We Effect partners are civil society organisations mainly from Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.


Published contributions

Source: WEF

Source: WEF

SACAU has for a while been involved in the World Economic Forum’s Food Systems dialogues, represented by its CEO. As part of this initiative, the CEO contributed to three of WEF’s publications.

The first is titled “Innovation with a purpose: The role of technology innovation in accelerating food systems transformation”. The CEO is quoted stating that “Smallholder farmers produce 80% of Africa’s food supplies, but they have limited access to finance, inputs, markets, information and other services.

Technology innovations can overcome all these challenges – but it won’t happen automatically. We need to combine innovation, investment and policy to harness the power of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to benefit smallholder farmers”. Published January 2018 innovation-with-a-purpose-the-role-of-technology-innovation-in-accelerating-food-systems-transformation.

The second was a whitepaper on “Bio-Innovation in the Food System: Towards a New Chapter in Multistakeholder Collaboration” which was published in October, 2018

The CEO attended a follow up workshop which articulated possible pathways forward to build a holistic governance process. The third was an insight report on “Identity in a Digital World, A new chapter in the social contract”. The CEO is quoted stating that “If designed well, digital identities can foster inclusion in almost all aspects of lives in transformational ways. For smallholder farmers, they hold the potential to help overcome the pervasive issues of social, economic and geographic isolation, and fragmentation which are at the root of poverty. And do so at an unprecedented scale”. Published September 2018

Sustainable Development Impact Summit

Source: WEF

Source: WEF

SACAU participated in the World Economic Forum (WEF) Sustainable Development Impact Summit which was held alongside the UN General Assembly in New York from 24 to 25 September 2018. The CEO participated in several meetings which covered wide-ranging topics, including feeding the planet sustainably and nutritiously, harnessing geospatial data for development, good digital identity and sustainable water management through collective action.

The CEO was in a session discussing harnessing geospatial data for development whose main aim was to outline common protocols and innovations that can support the sharing of real-time geospatial and geo-tagged data for better decision-making. The session focused on what can be done to promote the use of and facilitate access to geospatial data for data-driven decision making among small and medium enterprises for sustainable and productive operations.

Similarly, he a was a session discussion leader on “livelihoods and productivity” as part of the workshop on Feeding the Planet Sustainably and Nutritiously. The workshop was aimed at building consensus on scalable approaches to improving food systems to be more sustainable, inclusive, efficient, nutritious and healthy.