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Dr de Jager bids farewell to SACAU family

dr theoDr Theo de Jager addressing delegates at his last AGM

I have served on the Board since 2011, and learned much from legendary leaders such as Mr Doug Taylor-Freeme, Mr Felix Jumbe and Mr Salum Shamte, with whom I served. Mr Ajay Vashee was President when I first attended a SACAU conference. Much of the success of the organisation can be attributed to the visionary leadership and solid governance of these previous Presidents and Vice Presidents.

When I became President in 2013, I realised the true complexities of representing such a wide range of members; from the smallest of smallholders to some of the largest in the world. This poses some of the organisation’s biggest challenges, but is undoubtedly also our biggest advantage. No money can buy the powerful position of having a single voice for farmers in our region, and we need to treasure it above all differences in views or interests. I have spent a lot of time on SACAU, but I have benefited much more.

My biggest personal gain was that I can truly claim that I today have friends in every country in southern Africa amongst the farmers in rural areas. I had the privilege of representing you on the Board of the Pan African Farmers Organisation (PAFO) for 5 years, and being elected President from 2014-2017. I have represented the organisation on various African Union (AU) platforms, UN platforms, development agency driven initiatives, and deliberations on agricultural policies across Africa and the world. I never had to look back. I never wondered about the backing of our constituency.

I have always had the best possible support, administration and logistical, from our secretariat, and technical and intellectual help from the CEO and fellow farmer leaders. I thank you for that. That the organisation has on my watch never slipped up on reporting, financial management or governance, had little to do with my skills or Chairmanship of the Board.

It has everything to do with the quality of Board members with whom I have served, and especially those who were elected Vice Presidents; Mr Salum Shamte and Dr Sinare Sinare. Most of all it has to do with the remarkable management capabilities and leadership style of Mr Ismael Sunga, the best CEO with whom my paths have crossed. I will dearly miss this environment and people! Thank you for vesting your trust in me for leading the organisation and for the honor to represent you over the past 5 years.

A very special thanks to the SACAU youth for the surplus energy and inspiration you shared. You know that you, the under 40’s, are my favorite farmers in the world! Let me also thank my family who allowed my participation in the activities of SACAU, and tolerated my absence from home. Also to my Heavenly Father for His grace, for good health and the opportunity He granted me. May this organisation and its members be blessed beyond our expectations!

Theo de Jager

SACAU Newsletter, March 2018

Click here to download our March 2018 Newsletter

PAFO elects a new President

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Delegates at the PAFO General Assembly

The Pan African Farmers’ Organisation (PAFO) at its General Assembly (GA) held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 18th February 2017, elected Mr. Abdelmajid Ezzar, the President of Union Maghrebine et Nord Africaine des Agriculteurs (UMNAGRI) as its President.

Mr. Ezzar, who will serve for a two-year period, took over from Dr. Theo de Jager of SACAU who has served as the President for the past two years. PAFO presidency is on rotational basis and there were only two candidates eligible for election this year.

The General Assembly comprises representatives from the five regional farmers’ networks namely; Eastern African Farmers’ Federation (EAFF), the Plateforme Sous-Regionale des Organisations Paysannes d’Afrique Centrale (PROPAC), Reseau des Organisations Paysannes et de Producteurs agricoles de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (ROPPA), SACAU and UMNAGRI.

The SACAU delegation to the GA comprised Dr Theo de Jager, Mrs Jane Ngulube, Dr Sinare Sinare, Mr Alfred Kapichira Banda, Mrs Mamolise Lawrence, Mrs Brenda Tlabane, Mr Jose Mateus, Mr Hajasoanirina Rakotomandimby and Mr Benito Eliasi. Among other things, delegates reiterated the challenges that are faced by most farmers on the African continent.

They highlighted challenges with financing, accessing better markets, drought, unpredictable weather variation, poor infrastructure for improved production and managing logistics in the sector. Delegates also applauded the support received from the European Union (EU), Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), French Development Agency (AFD) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for supporting PAFO over the past three years.

It was agreed that PAFO should focus on advocacy especially with the African Union (AU) and other continental bodies to ensure that a favorable environment is created for farmers in the continent to produce and market their products with minimum hindrances.

Some of the policies and issues PAFO should look at are land and tenure security, trade and linkages to markets, especially on intra Africa trade; infrastructure such as connectivity, road, rail, electricity and water; modernisation, mechanisation and commercialisation of agriculture and application of Big Data in agriculture and its ownership.

Lastly, PAFO members were called to unite in combating threats which do not recognise international boundaries like pests, diseases, disasters and climate change and to mainstream women and youth in all PAFO events.

SADC can use cohesion to control Fall Armyworms

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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