Farmers call for integration of climate smart agriculture in school curriculum

In the context of climate change, the agricultural sector is confronted with a number of challenges. These relate to the expectation to produce more food to feed a growing world population while overcoming the negative impacts of climate change on the various types of agricultural enterprises. In addition, as a significant contributor to greenhouse gases, the sector is expected to reduce emissions to achieve the goal of limiting warming to 20C.

Achieving these targets through conventional farming methods will be difficult as agriculture is no longer a ‘simple’ process of producing food and fibre consistent with the image of the industry’s humble origins. Therefore, a transformation in the agricultural sector is imperative. But is transformation feasible without digital agriculture?

This is one of the contemporary issues that were discussed in the side event hosted by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), in collaboration with the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU), and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) at the 48th session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) on the 30th of April 2018 in Bonn, Germany. The motivation of this subject was linked to the omission of digital agriculture as a key component in the current edition of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA).


Dr Majola Mabuza (first from the right) at the side event during SBSTA in April in Bonn, Germany

Climate change adaptation is knowledge intensive, necessitating the use of different types of technology innovations to make farming more precise, efficient and rewarding. Research evidence has shown that adaptation can be site specific, hence segmenting data and information according to specific geographical areas can increase the relevance and applicability of farming tips, for example, enabling producers to increase productivity through efficient use of inputs, including land.

Efficient input use, particularly land, can help resolve the global challenge of deforestation, which is one of the major contributors of emissions. Therefore, data-driven farming practices create site-specific smartness that should inform longterm farm plans and provide farmers with tools to adapt and reduce the sector’s carbon footprint.

Despite the notion that digital or ICT-based interventions are not in sync with the dominant smallholder sub-sector in Sub-Saharan Africa, recent evidence has proven otherwise as small-scale farmers in the region benefit from various services (e.g. farming tips, weather-based index insurance, credit, funeral insurance cover, etc) that are offered through mobile phones.

The proliferation of digital agriculture also creates the right incentive for the youth to participate in various levels of the agricultural value chain. With access to better education, increased connectivity, and an appetite for technology and ICT based information, the young generation is better positioned to take advantage of the vast opportunities that Africa’s resources and global markets present.

Engaging the youth in climate risk management activities, will help create an environmentally conscious generation with considerable power to transform society towards a low-carbon and climate resilient future. The youth will become a new generation of ruralbased employers, hence contributing towards reducing climate-induced migration, which currently creates challenges of social cohesion and stability in host cities and/or countries within and beyond the continent.


Trade issues put under the spotlight


With our upcoming Annual Conference in May, trade issues will be put under the spotlight. The theme of the conference is “Trade as a driver for agricultural transformation in southern Africa”.

Delegates will get an overview of trade agreements impacting on agricultural development in southern Africa which will amongst others highlight the rules, regulations and key processes within which trade happens at the global and continental levels and between countries.

A presentation based on a paper that was commissioned in 2017 will provide a background to these agreements. This will be followed by more in-depth discussions of the different types of existing frameworks, agreements and some key elements within which are considered critical. Furthermore, concerns with current trade practices and arrangements will be highlighted, with case studies in certain areas provided.

More specifically, this will look at the controversies and issues around trade arrangements and practices and the extent to which they hinder prospects of agricultural transformation. Areas to be highlighted include unfair trade practices such as dumping, the influence of standards on producers’ participation in global value chains, and the effects of food and agricultural imports/export bans on producers and other value chain actors.

The conference will conclude by identifying and discussing key elements to consider in pursuing a trade-driven agricultural transformation agenda. These elements are among others, trade related infrastructure, trade policy, competitiveness, skills, and agro-industrialisation in the region. Appropriate entry points and key role players as well as expectations of the role players will be identified.

SACAU Newsletter, March 2018

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Inclusiveness, shared values and prosperity: key to agriculture development


Mr Ishmael Sunga at the World Economic Forum meeting.

Sustainable growth and development in the agriculture sector will not happen if the sector is not inclusive and does not have shared values. This is one of the key messages coming out of this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. There is no doubt that peace and stability are pre-requisites for the growth and development of the agriculture sector.

Thus, safeguarding political and economic stability will be critical for the development of the agriculturedriven economies of southern Africa. The sector will need to be more inclusive and have shared values if it is to develop in a sustainable way.

Shared prosperity will also be fundamental in this regard. There is a greater need for a good balance between politics and economics. Meanwhile, advances in science and technology in agriculture continue to bring new dimensions, some destructive and others constructive/productive.

Indeed, the sector has become technology driven, and technology is virtually touching all aspects of lives- it is influencing the way people think, relate and behave, and it can link, connect, bend, break, fracture and so forth.Technology can facilitate greedbased exploitation of resources and consumption of goods and services.

Competitiveness in agriculture should not become a divisive wall, effectively excluding others. Instead, technology can be harnessed to increase transparency and accountability in the sector, to foster greater cooperation, facilitate integration and to manage conflict in the sector

National farmers’ organisations share SFOAP implementation progress

SACAUstory3Visiting team of representatives of NFOs at the piggery cooperative in Shiselweni, Swaziland

Five national farmers’ organisations (NFOs) namely Agricultural Council of Tanzania (ACT); Coalition Paysanne de Madagascar (CPM), Lesotho National Farmers’ Union (LENAFU), Seychelles Farmers’ Association (SEYFA) and Swaziland National Agricultural Union (SNAU) met with the IFAD supervision mission from 21st to 25th October 2017 in Swaziland. The meeting, which was held at Lugogo Sun in Ezulwini, provided an opportunity for the NFOs to share achievements made under Support to Farmers’ Organizations in Africa Programme (SFOAP) over the period of one year. In addition, NFOs shared cases and experiences arising from implementation of the project. A visit to one of the cooperatives supported by the project was also made. From the reports received from NFOs, it was clear that the project is making positive contributions to the development of the agriculture sector in the countries where it is implemented.

In Swaziland, among others, the project has enabled SNAU to facilitate the establishment and registration of a multi-purpose cooperative that will benefit farmers regarding a number of aspects, including provision of farm inputs at a relatively low price. The cooperative will be able to aggregate inputs demand from farmers and negotiate for better prices with suppliers. The savings that will be made per unit cost through bulk purchasing will trickle down to individual farmers. The arrangement will also reduce transportation cost of the inputs to various parts of the country. This will also contribute towards reduction of production costs as transportation is one of contributors to high input cost.

In Lesotho, LENAFU is in the process of reviewing their constitution which will better guide the operations of the union, and has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Lesotho Post Bank for the provision of financial products to farmers. Currently, the bank has no products offered to farmers and it is expected that through the MoU it will be able to come up with special products that will benefit farmers. The Agriculture Council of Tanzania is in the process of organising a business-to-business conference for farmers and stakeholders in the livestock industry. The intention is to enable the stakeholders to meet with farmers and share the type of services they offer and provide farmers with an opportunity to engage with captains in the livestock industry. It is expected that farmers will get business deals for their products as well as information regarding livestock in the country. Government representatives will also be invited for them to understand some of the policy and technical bottlenecks farmers and other players in the livestock industry are facing.

CPM on the other hand reported that they embarked on a process of restructuring their organisation to effectively respond to the needs of farmers. They engaged a consultant who conducted an organisational audit that recommended that the organisation be restructured from the local level by forming commoditybased structures at the base. These local structures will form communal farmers’ organisations, which will subsequently form regional organisations, who in turn will affiliate to CPM at national level. The thinking behind this restructuring is to reinforce the localised institutions to work more effectively. On their part, the IFAD supervision team commended the NFOs for the achievements made and urged them to increase their effort in the implementation of activities so that they complete the project in time.

CSA partners collaborate on promoting practices and technologies


The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) current projections suggest that in the next 30 years, food production will have to increase by at least 70% to meet the demands of the world’s growing population. However, this may not be easy to accomplish, given the extensive impact of climate change and weather variability on the sector, and on smallholder farmers in particular. It is necessary, therefore, to build resilience and help farmers to adapt to the changing climate in a way that ensures that a growing population can be fed sustainably without further depleting natural resources.

With Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) showing the potential to achieve the above, efforts are under way to develop, organise and scale up CSA practices. In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where the adoption of CSA practices is currently low, the literature points to the necessity to make significant investments in agricultural research and development, institutional support and infrastructural development. Worth noting, however, is the need for a platform where agencies responsible for the various interventions can engage and learn from one another such that future interventions are planned and coordinated from a better informed position. One such attempt was made by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), which convened a meeting of CSA partners in Lusaka, Zambia, from 12th to 14th October 2017.

The purpose of the meeting was to draw inputs from the various organisations with the aim of developing collaborative CSA promotion interventions in East and Southern Africa. Amongst others, the meeting agreed on the establishment of Conservation Agriculture Centres of Excellence (CA CoE) in countries where they are currently not in existence. This initiative is meant to improve knowledge generation on CA practices through research and training. In addition, the need to provide empirical evidence on the relative profitability of CA under different locations and to link farmers to markets in order to reduce transaction costs, as well as the establishment of incentive arrangements for farmers practising CA/CSA was highlighted.

Represented in the meeting were several organisations, including the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI), African Conservation Tillage Network (ACT), Conservation Farming Unit (CFU), FAO, World Food Programme (WFP), New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and SACAU. The event was a success such that participants proposed to have such consultative meetings on an annual basis. It was also suggested that in future meetings, the public sector should be invited given their strategic role in the agricultural sector. As Norad project implementing partners ACT, CFU and SACAU were expected after this meeting to identify possible areas for collaboration as provided for in their respective agreements with Norad.

IFAD successfully completes the supervision mission in SACAU

SACAUstory1IFAD 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.

SACAU Newsletter, October 2017

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The plight of youth in the spotlight at the 2017 AGRF

The Seventh African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), under the theme “Accelerating the Path to Prosperity – Growing Inclusive Economies and Jobs through Agriculture” was held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, from 4-8 September 2017. The event which was attended by as many as 1,300 delegates, provided a premier platform for individuals to highlight their successes as well as for institutions to share their stories as they strive to drive significant progress across the continent for agricultural transformation and food security.

A number of high-profile dignitaries, such as presidents and former presidents of several African states like Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania, graced the 2017 AGRF. The SACAU delegation comprised Dr Theo de Jager, the president; Mr Ishmael Sunga, the CEO; and Mr Benito Eliasi, the Capacity Development Advisor as well as Ms Ruramiso Mashumba and Ms Maness Nkhata, who represented the SACAU Young Farmer Ambassadors.

SACAU took part in four out of the more than 52 sessions that were held in various capacities, including that of organisers, key speakers, discussants and panellists.

The main areas covered in these sessions included youth employment, women in agribusiness, strengthening youths’ access to inputs, markets, financing and creating an enabling policy environment for youth participation in agriculture.

One of the highlights of the AGRF was the launch of the 2017 African Agriculture Status Report (AASR), titled “The Business of Smallholder Agriculture”, which, among others, stressed the importance of governments working with the “free market” to drive Africa’s economic growth from food production.

The report also emphasised the need to substitute imports with high value food produced in Africa for a market forecast to be worth more than US$1-trillion a year by 2030. Delegates at the event emphasised that for Africa to achieve agricultural transformation, new models and new ways of doing business in agriculture are required and highlighted the need for all partners in the agricultural sector to regularly track progress against the agreed action plans to ensure more partners are mobilised and resources accounted for.

The forum also considered how governments, businesses and other partners are delivering on the political, policy and financial commitments worth more than  US$30-billion made at the 2016 AGRF in Nairobi, Kenya, and the impact this is having on the lives and incomes of farmers and agribusinesses.

Commensurate with this, various organisations made commitments to promote agricultural transformation on the continent.

Among these were the European Union; German Federal Ministry of Economic Corporation and Development (BMZ); Yara; Rockefeller Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as the African Union.