CSO STATEMENT TO THE 31th FAO REGIONAL CONFERENCE FOR AFRICA
Honourable Chairperson, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates and Observers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We, the 53 representatives of small and medium-scale farmers, rural women and youth, fisherfolk, agricultural workers, livestock keepers, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, cooperatives, consumers, and NGOs, representing national, regional and international CSOs coming from 22 countries met in Harare, Zimbabwe, from 25th to 27th of February 2020 for the Civil Society Consultation in line with the 31th FAO Regional Conference for Africa to be held on 23rd to 27th March 2020 in Victoria Falls.
We recognize the efforts of FAO to support this opportunity for civil society to collectively debate on our relationship, challenges and our demands and proposals to FAO and its members countries, as well as the opportunity to discuss the pertinent issues in the Regional Conference Agenda.
Although we regret the absence of the agenda of the Africa Regional Conference prior to this consultation, we welcome the space to collectively debate ongoing initiatives in intra-Africa trade in food and agriculture, building resilient food and agriculture systems in the context of Climate Change, conflicts and challenging socio-economic context, small-scale fisheries in the context of food security, innovations and inclusive agribusiness models (and their particular importance for youth and women), the UN Decade of Family Farming, food security and nutrition challenges of land-locked countries, UNDROP as well as the threats and opportunities of the UN 2021 Food systems summit in the framing of the CFS food policy spaces, the FAO decentralization process, and the FAO efforts around innovation and digitalization of food production information systems.
Notwithstanding the will and efforts of FAO and engaged CSOs, the efficient and sustainable implementation, as well as monitoring and evaluation of the recommendations from the FAO CSO consultations still remains for us an important concern.
While regretting that only 19 of the 54 African countries have National Committees (in various degrees of maturity), we also celebrate the common efforts of CSOs, UN organizations and Governments to collectively develop the Global Action Plan for the Decade of Family Farming, as well as the new regional and national efforts to initiate the democratic development of National Committees and Actions plans at national and regional levels. However, we note the persistence or emergence of some challenges that threatens the hopes engaged by ongoing initiatives:
- No significant positive developments have been observed in our governments’ efforts to address the contradictory policy actions (including free-trade and economic partnership agreements) that still obstruct the positive efforts undertaken by governments themselves, CSOs, and interest groups to improve the livelihoods of our constituencies, and continue to degraded our nature and natural resources.
- The vast majority of voluntary guidelines approved by African governments in the international spheres are not domesticated and implemented at national level.
- Food waste and post-harvest losses, and the lack of appropriate infrastructure (irrigation, transport, markets, strategic storage, and others) continue to negatively impact the production and productivity of the food supply system, as well as severely hinder efforts to eliminate hunger and malnutrition.
- Increasing number and intensity of armed conflicts (internal and cross-border, including organized terrorism) and the lack of ability of our governments to holistically and effectively stop them, are devastating the territories and livelihoods of our rural communities, fuelling forced displacement and migration of populations, emptying rural areas, and causing unimaginable traumas and hardships to women, youth and children.
- Hunger and malnutrition continue to be endemic in Africa. Although governments have largely recognized the right to food and nutrition, most of them have not taken serious and consistent actions to internalize these rights within their national constitutions and legislations.
As such, and following our discussions during the 3 days of the Civil Society consultation, we strongly urge for the following from our governments:
1. Implementation of protocol documentation such as certificate of origin and the free circulation of people, goods and services, in particular of free trade zones and cross-border areas. Additionally, these protocols must be made public and widely available in the various African local languages.
2. To promote open and inclusive debates and discussions on the AFTDA, that truly take the concerns and considerations of civil society and other key actors at heart.
3. Develop and upholding progressive and inclusive policies and processes to ensure the active involvement of actors especially small-scale food producer, and consumers, in formulation, implementation and monitoring of relevant policies affecting them.
4. Governments should (together with its people) create a balance between intra- and inter-country trade that clearly protect and benefit local economies and markets first, including public policies that promote and protect the consumption of local products, including public procurement programs.
5. Work in partnership with National and sub-National small-scale producer organization to develop and/or enhance public of procurement programs directed at local food producer
6. Introduce agriculture and food production to children in education system from young ages. It is crucial that this is done based on positive examples and experience of working in the fields.
7. Embrace a vision of public-private-peasant partnerships across different aspects of the national economies and social life and well-being.
8. Design specific climate resilience policies and research for the different food production sectors, that respect, integrate, scale-up local and indigenous knowledge and wisdom, including the protection and participatory improvement of African local and indigenous genetic resources, effective safety-nets for small scale food producers, and others.
9. Inclusively develop medium- and long- term strategies aimed at critical innovations to move towards a food system that is clean, healthy, environmentally friendly and free of agro-toxics, strongly championed by public research centers.
10. Small-scale food producers are innovative by their nature and necessity. Introduction of new innovations and technologies must be based on the demands of those directly involved in small-scale food production, building on local and indigenous knowledge and wisdom, scaling-up existing best-practices and examples, and rooted in South-South collaborations and exchange of experiences.
11. The harmonization of existing observatories on family farming and expansion of positive experiences to all African sub-regions to enable proper data collection and analysis on the state of small-scale food production in Africa.
12. Create and secure corridors inside and across borders for the safe movement of transhumance pastoralists, with appropriate health and education services.
13. Countries should urgently uphold their commitment to secure tenure of land and other natural resources of small-scale food producers, such as the UN Peasant Rights Declaration (UNDROP), Land Governance Assessment Frameworks and the FAO Voluntary guidelines on fisheries, African Union Fisheries Strategy, UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples and ensure a harmonious integration of such frameworks for effective implementation, including the
14. Ratify the UNDROP into national legal frameworks (including their Nationally Determined Contributions to Global efforts), and be leaders in the sensitization of their parliamentarians on the same.
15. Involve small-scale fisherfolk in the co-management of transnational water bodies- especially inland water bodies and big lakes.
16. Support job creation in rural areas through community based, inclusive, and eco-friendly tourism
17. Create open and meaningful spaces for full participation of small-scale food producers in the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, ensure that the Summit is strongly framed within UNDROP, and CFS process as the foremost, inclusive global platform in the Food Summit preparations, and dedicate a plenary session of CFS 47 to an open, inclusive debate on the Summit.
18. Must take into account the implementation of UNDFF National Actions Plans within public programs and projects.
Furthermore, we strongly call for the following from the FAO:
19. Be a key player in popularizing the existing and new avenues for resource mobilization arising from UN agencies and related funding schemes and programs, such as the new IFAD mechanisms on CC.
20. Emphasize the building of capacities of youth and women in the food production sectors and offering technical support on agro-processing and development of good practices.
21. Technically support the creation and functioning of a permanent secretariat for the FAO CSO consultations, with a view to meaningfully assess progress of CSO recommendations, share relevant information and knowledge among producer organizations, and the support to Steering Committee in the preparation of regional consultations.
22. National and Regional FAO offices must urgently take-up their responsibilities towards the implementation of the UNDFF, while ensuring the inclusive participation of civil society and the support to the national Family Farming committees. FAO Global and regional offices should create open accountability mechanisms to enforce this and rectify behavior where needed.
23. Continue and intensify support to expansion the capacity of women and youth on land issues, and food processing in the different sectors.
24. Establish contact with IFAD for the financing of youth entrepreneurship in the Agro-pastoral sectors.
We call for the FAO and our governments to:
25. Ensure inclusive and national dialogues with CSOs prior to the 2021 Food system summit
26. Take decisive steps to encourage youth to remain connected to local food systems and foster respect for local food production.
27. Integrate the UNDROP transversally across its Procedures and programmes
28. To accelerate the implementation process of the Africa Agricultural Transformation programs, led by the innovation knowledge and know-how of small-scale food producers, in order to make small-scale food production a promising sector in terms of quality and quantity, as well as for just management of our Natural Resources.
Finally, we commit ourselves to:
29. Collaborate with our governments to socialize relevant policy information to our constituencies in the appropriate African local languages;
30. Play and active role in the fostering of local markets, to share and capitalize on the positive experiences being developed by our organizations and constituencies.
31. Continue to promote and advocate for truly sustainable and resilient models of food production and consumption, including agroecology and farmer-managed seed systems, agro-forestry, sustainable fisheries, best pastoral practices, and integrated food-production systems.
32. Continue to work with governments to build small-scale food producers’ capacity to consistently meet local and national markets demands.
33. Be active players in raising the dignity of small-scale food producers, including their vision of themselves as productive and valuable members of their societies and nations.
34. Work consistently to continue transforming gender roles of women and youth in our rural and urban households towards roles that raise their self-esteem that ensure the liberty chose careers, occupation, and lifestyle.
35. Work collective and within our networks and constituencies to interpret and socialize the UNDROP in the maximum possible number of African languages to ensure that it is known and understood in all corners of Africa; and to use as an opportunity to collectively develop solutions to our common and specific challenges.
36. Mobilize ourselves to fully understand the UNDFF, its programs, plans and the opportunities it offers to enhance our autonomously developed plans and strategies; articulate and co-created National Committees for the implementation of the Decade; and take an active role in the communication elements of the UNDFF.
Ladies and gentlemen, we once again recognize the efforts and initiatives of all those involved opening the doors of dialogue and collective policy analysis and action, particularly referring to the planning of the next biennial of FAO’s cooperation with our African States.
On behalf of the organizations represented in the CSO Consultation, we trust and hope that our sincere analysis, demands, and proposals are well received by you and your teams, and we look forward to more concrete collaborations with you in the coming period.