IFAD Mission team and representatives of NFOs in Swaziland
The Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU), together with four other regional farmers’ organisations (RFOs), on the continent has been implementing a Support to Farmers’ Organizations in Africa Programme (SFOAP) which is funded by the European Union (EU), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), French Development Agency (AfD) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) since 2013.
Every year IFAD organises supervision missions to RFOs to review progress of the programme and provide technical support where necessary. The 2017 mission for SACAU took place from 18th to 26th October and was conducted at regional level (SACAU secretariat) and in Swaziland where five implementing national farmers’ organisations (NFOs) namely Agricultural Council of Tanzania, Coalition Paysanne de Madagascar, Lesotho National Farmers Union, Seychelles Farmers Association and host Swaziland National Agricultural Union joined the team.
The mission this year was extremely critical considering that the programme is coming to an end in December 2018. Consequently, much of the time was dedicated towards planning activities for the final year of the programme. To this effect, all parties agreed that with 16 months of implementation left, there is an urgent need to expedite the implementation of project activities. The preparedness of NFOs to sustain activities after the SFOAP funding was also discussed. Regarding the contribution of SFOAP to the capacity of participating NFOs, the mission noted that the programme has contributed to making farmers’ organisations central players in the development of agricultural policies in their respective countries and in the region amongst others.
This was confirmed by the doubling of the number of invitations NFOs received to participate in policy consultation meetings over the period of one year. In addition, participating NFOs are much more present in specific working groups, taskforces and committees discussing agricultural development in their respective countries. In 2013, NFOs were present in only 41 of these structures, but as of August 2017, they were participating in 78 of these. This increase is a proxy evidence that other stakeholders in the sector have confidence in the NFOs and that the credibility of NFOs is being enhanced by the project.
The overall conclusion of the mission was that activities implemented at regional and national levels are relevant and are responding to the needs of the NFOs and farmers. In addition, the IFAD mission appreciated the business-oriented approach by SACAU and NFOs in their operations. This will ensure financial sustainability and reduce dependency on external financing in the long run considering that globally the funding landscape for farmers’ organisations is changing. The mission also commended SACAU for its focus on youth and ICT.