Open Letter to Heads of States - AU Summit; Keep Your Maputo promise to end hunger and Extreme poverty for millions of Africans by 2024

Dear African Head of State,

Ref:  Golden Opportunity at the 23rd African Union (AU) Heads of State Summit in Malabo,  Equatorial Guinea, 25 -27 June 2014: “To Keep  Your  Maputo promise to end hunger and Extreme  poverty for millions of Africans by 2024”

We are writing to you ahead of the historic 23rd AU Heads of State and Government Summit that will take place in Malabo, from June 25-27, 2014 which will discuss how best Africa can address hunger and agricultural stagnation on the continent in the next decade under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

In particular, we write to you as we are very concerned about the over 400 million Africans who live below the poverty line (on less than a dollar a day) and the over 200 million Africans that face hunger every day due to this stagnation. Despite Africa’s vast agricultural potential, growing local demand for food, our continent has remained a net importer of food for the last three decades. We believe your Malabo summit commemorating 2014 as the AU Year of Agriculture and Food Security can permanently change this condition.

Thus, we urge you and your peers to use this historic meeting to come up with a time bound plan that will unlock the continent’s vast agricultural potential needed to free millions of people from extreme poverty and hunger.

We believe the current situation is not irreversible, as it is exacerbated by most African governments’ failure to fulfil the 2003 AU Maputo declaration, i.e. the AU member states promise to all commit at least 10% of their national budgets to agriculture and rural development. To date, only 13 out of 54 countries in the continent have kept that important promise with only 8 countries sustaining the allocation. Starting from here at home, we strongly believe 2014 provides a unique opportunity for you to lead practical efforts to end the trend of high levels of poverty, hunger and malnutrition, and high food import bills faced by our continent.

Specifically, we are asking for your leadership in this agenda by mobilizing your peers at the summit to keep the promise, recommit or continue to invest at least 10% of our national budgets to support productivity of small holder agriculture. Over the past six months, following an initiative by ONE and Oxfam with 29 famous African musicians, over two million petition signatures of African citizens have been mobilised: Citizens who are appealing to you and other AU leaders to step up your agriculture public investments, so that the 2014 AU Year of Agriculture is not mere rhetoric.  Most importantly, the millions of Africans who face grinding poverty are counting on you to commit to agricultural investments that will make a lasting difference in their lives.

Since the day your government came into power, you committed yourself to finding effective solutions to achieve food security and create jobs for all citizens. Investing in agriculture should be the starting point as the sector has the greatest potential for creating inclusive economic growth, improving food security and nutrition, and growing millions of jobs for Africa’s unemployed youth.

As you meet in Malabo, we humbly urge you and your peers to keep your promises to invest in agriculture development that boost smallholder producer’s production, competitiveness and resilience especially women producers.

Thus, the undersigned encourage you and other Heads of State that will gather in Malabo to adopt the following recommendations to guide national level implementation and measurement of progress:

  1. AU Member States should adopt a target-based timeline towards reaching the AU 2003 promise to dedicate a minimum of 10% of the annual budget for agriculture and create a mechanism for monitoring progress.
  2. AU Member States should commit to making investments that increase the support for small scale producers which include investments in hard infrastructure, technologies, research, extension services, information services and end post-harvest losses.
  3. AU Member States should commit to implementing quality focused agriculture budgets and services that are clear and transparent to farmers and citizens.
  4. AU Member States should adopt measures to eliminate the gender and youth gap with respect to access to finance, land, technology, and training and extension services as well as markets access.
  5. AU Member States should adopt guiding principles on Large Scale Land Based Investments that will strengthen land governance and security of tenure rights for small-scale producers and curb land grabs through the implementation of AU ‘Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa’.
  6. AU Member States should adopt a mechanism for mutual accountability and joint sector reviews to account for progress in ending hunger within the CAADP result framework.
  7. AU Member States should adopt measures to reduce barriers to domestic and intra-regional trade.
  8. AU Member States should adopt measures to integrate sustainability and climate resilience measures into national agriculture investment plans.
  9. AU Member States should adopt mechanisms for preventing, managing and monitoring the recurrent food and nutrition crisis
  10. AU Member States should adopt measures to ensure policy making under CAADP is inclusive, effective, transparent, mutually accountable, and participatory.

If measures to support the 10 recommendations are adopted, we expect the following benefits for Africa by 2025:

  •     Boosted yields for small holder farmers and a reduced food import bill which currently stands at about $25 billion annually.
  •     Increased food availability for the 265 million Africans who are under-nourished.
  •     Increased intra-Africa trade benefits, estimated to reach $2 trillion by 2030.
  •     Increased incomes for farming families through reduced post-harvest loss which is today at $48 billion a year.
  •     Increase food production and agro-processing can provide millions of jobs for African youth.
  •     Through bold policies and large investments in Agriculture, the rising continent can rise with its people.

Please be the champion to end poverty in our continent;

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