By Chineme Okafor
Abuja — Action Aid Nigeria (AAN), an associate of the Action Aid International (AAI), a right-based organisation that is committed to poverty eradication, recently in Abuja began a crucial process of getting the Federal Government to respect its pledge to implement the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP).
CAADP is an agricultural programme of the African Union's New Partnership for Africa's Development (AU/NEPAD), which is geared towards improving food security, nutrition, as well as increasing incomes in Africa's largely farming based economies.
The programme, which was established by the African Union (AU) general assembly in 2003 is an ambitious and innovative keystone initiative to combat poverty and hunger through agricultural development by raising agricultural productivity by at least 6 per cent per year and increasing public investment in agriculture to 10 per cent of annual national budgets.
CAADP is expected to provide soft loans and extension services to small scale African farmers who have been adjudged the continent's major source of agricultural produce supply. Nigeria is signatory to this programme but the Federal Government has allegedly shown less commitment to its full implementation.
In this regard, the AAN initiated an encompassing two-day stakeholder forum where issues bothering on its implementation were discussed to drum up support for a speedy action on the framework.
The forum also drew up modalities for the inclusion of non-state actors in the execution of the CAADP framework in Nigeria. The non-state actors are regarded as the rural farmers who are often affected by government policies on agriculture.
The Country Director of AAN, Mr. Hussaini Abdu, told journalists that the forum - amongst other things - wants to ensure that the framework is exhaustively understood by the stakeholders who are mostly small scale farmers and are strategic to Africa's quest for increased food production.
He explained the essence of mainstreaming small scale farmers into the implementation process as a means of realising the CAADP goals with minimal accountability hitches, which has become the norm in most government's concerns.
Hussaini called on the government to expedite action on the framework by involving non-state actors in the process. He added that "it is established that public funds earmarked for agricultural development are not properly accounted for, about 40 per cent of this funds are poorly utilised, we need to address this by allowing non-state actors to be on the same page with government's plans, after all, they are the major recipients of these policies."
Accordingly, the forum came up with a communiqué on the action plan needed by government to ensure that key principles of the CAADP policy are imbibed to improve its investment in agriculture.
CAADP is at the heart of efforts by African governments under the AU/NEPAD agenda to accelerate growth and eliminate poverty and hunger among African countries, it is expected to lead Africa to economic growth through agricultural development.