Ouagadougou: Training for Farmers
More than 60 participants converged at the Hotel des Conférences Ouind Yidé in the Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou where ACORD was conducting a training of trainers' workshop. The forum brought together networks of farmers and community based organisations within the sub-regions of the Economic Community of West African States and the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa.
The workshop took place from 26 to 30 July 2010 and followed another training that was held in Kenya in June targeting farmers from English-speaking countries. The training aimed to improve knowledge of small-holder farmers and animal breeders on methods and practices of agricultural and animal production, and sustainable management of land and water. This was meant to increase the skills of small farmers and animal breeders so that they can have better access to agricultural markets.
In addition, the training also aimed to increase the capacity of organisations from small-scale farmers and animal keepers to develop and disseminate information and agricultural practices for their members as well as strengthen the ability of small-scale farmers and animal keepers' organisations to engage in the Global Process for the Development of Agriculture in Africa and Contract for Sharing of Production (CPP) of the African Union (AU).
The training was focusing on aspects such as agricultural and animal production, development skills in marketing, management of land and water, economic foundations and budget analysis for governance, policy advocacy and related tools, as well as an evaluation framework on food sovereignty and the gender perspective.
Training needs assessment tools had been distributed to organisations and networks of farmers to raise capacity, identify specific requirements in order to illuminate the training modules. Carefully thought-out strategies had also been formulated to work closely with Governments and intergovernmental institutions including the national authorities and ministries as well as agencies concerned like the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the AU.
Even though the agricultural sector plays a major role in the majority of African countries, its overall performance has been unpromising in the last four decades and has resulted in aggravated conditions of hunger, chronic food insecurity, poverty and HIV / AIDS. Women are the backbone of the industry, providing more than 60 per cent of the agricultural labour force, and handling more than 90% of agricultural holdings. Still, they have limited rights in terms of access, control and ownership of natural resources, especially land.
Needless to say that agriculture and livestock are key sectors which provide livelihood and represent more than 80 percent of rural employment.
'Combine policy frameworks with good practice', participants urged
Therefore, the restructuring of production and agricultural productivity in sub-Saharan Africa requires an approach that combines an efficient and solid policy formulation as well as practical and tangible activities, including strengthening the local capacity to cope with the dynamics of agricultural production at the farm level and changes within the market. These are some of the issues that came out strongly during the 5-day training forum.
In their presentation, the participants from the agro-pastoral community indicated that lack of integration of the gender dimension in the agricultural and pastoral policy frameworks was a hindrance to effective implementation of their food sovoereignty practices. In addition, the agro-pastoral group highlighted the following economic, socio-cultural and political difficulties:
- A disconnect between research and production (affecting efforts to secure improved seeds, and procurement of manure that is friendly to the eco-system);
- Lack of adherence to the production calendar by agricultural producers and late dissemination of the production calendar by the agricultural departments of the National Government;
- Lack of autonomy among the farmer organisation as well as poor infrastucture
In the ongoing discussions, several opportunities were also been identified by various agricultural and pastoral delegations present. The following main pointers were put to the table for discussion:
- That overall there exists a favourable environment with national agricultural policies and laws in West Africa progressively redefined (such as the institutional adjustments, strategies and rural development programmes such as the PDDAA, and ECOWAP) to facilitate agricultural production;
- Engagement of farmer leaders by the Government to get involved in national and regional planning, as well as the recognition of national days that bring attention to agricultural practices can been capitalised on.
As a follow up to this training, ACORD together with its partners envisage that elaborate methods will be set up for design and implementation of the second level training programme targeting organisations of small-holder farmers and animal breeders focusing on agricultural policies. This needs to include information on agricultural and animal production, effective marketing, and management of land and water.
Lastly, wide-scale trainings will be held at regional and Pan African levels to bring together organisations of farmers and animal breeders, regional economic communities and the AU in order to understand and participate in the implementation of the Global process for the Development of Agriculture in Africa.