SACAU Convening Regional Workshop for Dairy Farmers

From the 23rd of June 2015, the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) will host a 3-day workshop in Harare, Zimbabwe, for dairy farmers drawn from across eastern and southern African countries. This will be convened in partnership with the Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF) and the WeEffect (formerly Swedish Cooperative Centre).

The workshop seeks to understand developments of the dairy sector in eastern and southern Africa, get updates from national dairy associations in southern Africa on their success stories, the key challenges and policy issues affecting the dairy sectors in these countries and to identify lobby and advocacy issues that need to be addressed at regional level. Attendees will also learn about models for micro financing of small scale dairy farming as well as the different dairy production models in Zimbabwe. They will then establish terms of references for the regional dairy platform steering committee.

Delegates from South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe are expected to be in attendance.

2015 Annual Conference

In the course of the next few days, hundreds of delegates from around the world will arrive in Seychelles for the 2015 SACAU Annual Conference. The conference will be attended by a host of high-level government representatives, private sector stakeholders and international role-players, policymakers, manufacturers, farmers, retailers, financiers, development representatives and stakeholders working within African agriculture.

Agriculture in southern Africa has the potential to feed the world or to become the leading food provider on the continent. However this could remain a pipedream if the sector and governments do not actively address obstacles facing the sector. One of the key questions SACAU members and delegates need to address at the upcoming, Annual Conference to be held in Mahe, from the 25th to 26th May 2015 is, how best to maximise productivity without causing further degradation of natural resources caused by inefficient farming.

The conference will officially be opened by Mr Wallace Cosgrow, Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture of Seychelles. Leading speakers (experts) on natural resources such as soils and water; forests and woodlands; rangelands; and fisheries have confirmed their attendance. Delegates will amongst others explore innovative and sustainable options for increasing agricultural productivity in the region, to ensure food security for its growing population.

SACAU members amongst others also need to look into what it would take to achieve agricultural productivity growth while ensuring the sustainability of resources – all this in the context of additional challenges posed by climate change. Some the issues delegates will grapple with are:

  • What is the impact of predicted climatic changes for Southern Africa on soil and water resources and how will this affect productivity?
  • What are the game-changing technological breakthroughs and innovative practices that can help farmers overcome their challenges?
  • Given the critical need to increase production and productivity, what approaches can enable the region to aggressively adopt climate-smart farming?

Climate change will be integrated into the conference theme given its significant implications on how resources now need to be managed.

SADC’s 2063 roadmap

More prominence appears to have been given to minerals following the recent Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of State and Government Summit in Zimbabwe. Regional leaders approved two crucial blueprint documents on economic integration and industrialisation in Southern Africa during the Extra-Ordinary Summit.

In view of the crucial importance of agriculture in the region, a focus on agriculture can bring broader benefits and major impact it many people in the region. Sub-Saharan Africa remains an overwhelming agricultural region. The region is blessed with fertile land, water and a good agricultural climate needed to be a leading global food producer.

However, as noted at the Summit trade between southern African countries remain low, at around 10 percent, while the figure is much higher with trading partners outside the continent. The Summit considered the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap and the revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (2015-2020) as mandated at the 34th Ordinary SADC Summit held in August 2014, in Zimbabwe.

The SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap is anchored on three pillars, i.e. industrialisation, competitiveness and regional integration, and is also premised on a three-phase long outlook covering 2015-2063. The Industrialisation Strategy is thus aligned with the African Union’s Agenda 2063. The Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP 2015-2020) will guide the implementation of SADC programmes in the next five years and will focus on four priority areas. These are an industrial development and market integration; infrastructure in support of regional integration, peace and security cooperation, and special programmes of a regional dimension.

Mineral beneficiation is amongst others seen by regional leaders as a great source of job creation and enhancement of economic development in the region. Beneficiation is regarderd as a crucial part of industrialisation and regional integration. SADC is currently integrating with other two regional blocs, i.e. Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Commission (EAC).

NFO’s making inroads

Following a training and advocacy workshop in South Africa, SACAU has noted a greater recognition of the role National Farmers’ Organisations (NFO’s) by stakeholders in their respective countries. Young farmers’ organisations in particular have seen an increase in the demand for their participation in key policy and programme discussions and meetings.

According to Benito Eliasi, SACAU Capacity Development Advisor, the trends are an indication of the integrity and credibility of NFO’s in strengthening their role in agricultural development. “Most of these NFOs have been in existence for less than 10 years, but have built confidence among their strategic partners to become very important partners in the programme and policy discourse in their respective countries,” he explained.

To illustrate this point delegates learned at the workshops that in a space of 10 months last year, five NFOs namely ACT (Tanzania), CPM (Madagascar), SNAU (Swaziland), SeyFA (Seychelles) and LENAFU (Lesotho) combined received a total of 247 invitations. This translate into approximately 22 invitations per month among them. These invitations can be seen as evidence that various stakeholders recognize and acknowledge the value of NFOs in development policy structures. Finance from International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), European Commission (EC), Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) and Swiss Agency for Development and Corporation (SDC) has provided facilities and human capacity to these NFOs to make their visibility and .participations possible.

In addition to these invitations, NFOs are also serving as members in various important agricultural committees in their countries and regions. It has also been established that leaders and management in these NFOs are participating in 41 committees, taskforces or working groups. Through these committees they contribute to decision-making pertaining to a number of issues in agriculture, whilst their presence in such committees also ensures that the voices of farmers are heard.