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Agricultural policy making in Southern Africa: Issues and challenges
Report of the Second Regional Stakeholder Meeting

Holiday Inn, Harare, Zimbabwe

Edited by Chrispen Sukume and Mabel N Hungwe
6 May 2001 - 9 March 2001

Acknowledgements: CTA funded publication


WORKSHOP OVERVIEW

  1. PREAMBLE

    The Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) was created to promote appropriate agricultural and natural resources policy in order to reduce poverty, increase food security and enhance sustainable agricultural development in the SADC region.

    To achieve the above goal FANRPAN is focused on three tasks:

    • Improving policy research, analysis and formulation on key SADC priority themes
    • Developing human and institutional capacity for co-ordinated policy dialogue among all stakeholders
    • Improving policy decision making by enhancing generation, exchange and use of policy related information.


  2. STAKEHOLDERS' MEETING

    The FANPRAN stakeholders' meeting was held from 6th to 9th of May 2001 at the Holiday Inn in Harare, Zimbabwe. The meeting was attended by 23 participants from Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Namibia, Malawi, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zimbabwe representing a broad spectrum of stakeholders in the agricultural industry. The theme of the meeting was Agricultural Policy Making in Southern Africa: Issues and Challenges.

    The workshop's official opening was chaired by Professor Ostin Chivinge, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Zimbabwe and featured presentations by representatives from SADC Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Development Unit (SADC-FANR-DU), USAID's Regional Centre for Southern Africa(RCSA), and SADC Food Security and Rural Development Multi-donor Hub. In the opening remarks by the Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, Professor Chivinge thanked the regional members of the network for the confidence they showed in nominating the University of Zimbabwe as interim secretariat for FANRPAN to help spearhead the network. Professor Chivinge reported that the University of Zimbabwe has as of May 2001 achieved one of the objectives the Network set out to achieve at its launch in 1997 - that of an independent autonomous co-ordinating unit for the network. For the first time, the network will have full time staff to co-ordinate the dialogue processes. In order to ensure that network activities contribute to regional policy making, the new regional co-ordinating unit will strategically be linked to the SADC Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Sector Development Unit (FANR). Professor Chivinge particularly singled out the contributions of the former Coordinator, Dr Joseph Rusike ( who has since left the University of Zimbabwe for ICRISAT), Mr Reginald Mugwara (SADC) and Dr Chris Sukume for building the operational framework of the network. Mr Reggie Mugwara representing the SADC FANR-DU outlined the origins of the recommendations to set up the network, building on a series of meetings dating back to 1990. He pointed out that with the ongoing economic reforms, structural adjustment and liberalisation of African states, the region needed policy advice from its own researchers. He noted that early thinking was to model the network along the same lines of the highly successful University of Zimbabwe/Michigan State University Food Security Research Programme. This initiative which was operational during the mid 1980s to early 1990s led the thinking and managed to effectively rally most countries in Southern Africa on food security issues. Mr Mugwara wished the network could achieve such success.

    Dr Scott Allen, representing USAID-RCSA expressed the USAID's commitment in providing institutional support for setting up the network. He pointed out that the USAID had given a grant to enable the network to hire permanent staff. Dr Allen pledged USAIDís continued support of the network. Dr Rudolph Polson, the SADC-Hub Director praised the initiative for setting up the network structures. He hoped for active collaboration between his institution, FANRPAN as well as other regional networks such as ECAPAPA in East Africa. Dr Polson expressed the need to develop a critical mass of policy makers who would be the think tanks for the network and thereby building human capacity. He also emphasised the importance of the independence of the network both administratively and financially. It was critical, therefore, for the network to find ways of broadening their financial base.

    Professor Mandivamba Rukuni, Chairperson of the FANRPAN Interim Steering Committee reiterated the history of the formation of FANRPAN. He described the institutional structure and programme that was designed at the network planning meeting in 1997. He however noted that getting donors to support the networks' rather ambitious programme and desired governance structure proved a problem. Major revisions and simplification of the network programme subsequently convinced the USAID to provide support. He however warned the network not to be complacent and to ensure that funding was sustainable. Professor Rukuni noted that having a lot of the funding from the USAID could create a perception that the network was donor-driven. To assure that the donor-driven perception does not sustain itself, there was need to have a stakeholder driven process to spearhead the network's research agenda. For this to happen, there was need to strengthen the country nodes, and country networks. The network also needed to quickly complete the setting up of a governance mechanism that ensured accountability and produced quality work.


  3. ORGANISATION OF THE WORKSHOP

    The theme of the Second Regional Stakeholder Meeting was Agricultural Policymaking in Southern Africa: Issues and Challenges. The expected outputs of the workshop were:

    1. Policy concerns from various SADC countries shared
    2. Common concerns identified and common research agenda developed
    3. Gaps in policy formulation identified and strategies for improvement developed
    4. Capacity for policy analysis and advocacy improved
    5. Strategies for improving communication of network results developed.


    The workshop was divided into four main sessions:

    • Discussion of key policy issues confronting Southern Africa
    • Sharing of perspectives on policy making in East and Southern Africa
    • Sharing of experiences based on the year 2000 in-country stakeholder dialogue fora
    • Institutional arrangements for networking


  4. OVERVIEW OF POLICY ISSUES FACING SADC

    The session on key policy issues facing Southern Africa was introduced by Mr Godfrey Mudimu of the University of Zimbabwe. Mr Mudimu who presented the key note presentation classified the key policy issues as due to environmental, technological, economic, institutional and or globalisation. Under environment related policy issues, Mr Mudimu highlighted the land pressure facing the majority of farmers in Southern Africa. Countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia are still trying to undo the colonial legacy of unequal distribution of land. In the other countries, smallholder farmers who form the majority of the farmers, grow small parcels of land held under insecure tenure arrangements confining them to perpetual poverty traps. Countries in the region have not managed to refocus research organisations to better serve the majority smallholder farmers. Most technologies produced by the research institutions are suited to high cash input users to the detriment of the resource poor smallholders. These have been compounded by financial constraints facing the smallholder farmers. The major financial institutions have also failed to find innovative ways of financing the resource poor farmers and few grassroots organisations have been created to fill this gap.

    The majority of the farmers have also suffered from lack of or poor access to input and output markets. This has been mainly due to governments' failure to invest in roads and communication infrastructure in the rural areas. As a result, farmers incur excessive costs to get inputs to the farms and receive uneconomic returns from selling their produce. Generally, the poor organisation among the many smallholders has meant that farmers have not been very effective in effectively lobbying the government for more responsive service institutions in the areas they reside and farm.

    The traditional role of places of final retirement played by rural areas of Southern Africa has also meant that they have felt the blunt of the HIV/AIDS scorge ravaging the region. More directly, the disease has affected productivity of the farmers. Indirectly it has reduced farmers of remittances from migrant worker family members, a traditional source of finance for farm operations. All the above challenges encountered by the Southern African farmers are compounded by the phenomena of globalization. Informational advantages enjoyed by the large-scale commercial and corporate farming units have enabled them to link up with agrobusiness entities worldwide boosting their returns. High transactions costs of organising economic volumes of produce and ensuring quality from the scattered smallholders has effectively excluded them from participating in the lucrative international market.


  5. POLICY MAKING PROCESSES IN EAST AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

    Five papers describing how agricultural and trade policies are formulated in Uganda, Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Tanzania were presented. The study on Uganda gave an indepth analysis, based on interviews of companies and individuals affected by trade policies, of the institutions, their roles and importance in the policy making process. The paper on Malawi looked at the changing roles of different stakeholders in agricultural policy making in the context of changes in political and economic environment experienced by Malawi in the past twenty years. The Zimbabwe paper also followed the same approach in examining how agricultural policies have evolved in the past twenty years. The South Africa paper evaluated the policy making process on the basis of the degree to which it responds to the veiws of the different stakeholders and regions that make up the country. The Tanzania paper reviewed in detail the development of the Tanzania Livestock Policy.

    A number of common observations that came up in all papers and subsequent discussion included:

    • Poor representation of smallholder farmers.
    • The tendency of dominance of the country's presidency in policy making process.
    • Despite the general move towards democratic governance in the region, this has not been effectively reflected in the policy making process. Stakeholder consultative processes have proved very costly, have tended to favour the interests of donors and have tended to be shallow with consultation usually being conducted during the formulation stage and not agenda setting stages.
    • There was a feeling that countries had formulated reasonably good policies on paper following inclusive processes but little attention had been paid to implementation and review of policies.
    • The participants also blamed the policy analysts for the poor in-depth research supporting policy formulation in the region. Even though there was an abundance of well trained analysts, they lacked 'intellectual confidence' to offer their opinions on policy issues to gain confidence of policy makers. Policy networks such as FANRPAN would go a long way towards building this kind of confidence through raising of the profiles of local analysts so as to enable them entrance into the policy process.
    • Participants also felt that most analysts in the region are highly qualified to conduct academic type research but poorly equipped to conduct action-oriented research that effectively feeds into the policy making process.


  6. REPORTS ON STAKEHOLDER DIALOGUE MEETINGS

    The FANRPAN network during the year 2000, supported stakeholder dialogue meetings. The objective of these was to discuss issues of concern with the impending regional integration initiatives as well as domestic agricultural policies and regulation. Co-ordinators of country nodes presented summary reports of dialogue meetings they had facilitated emphasising issues affecting regional trade.

    A number of cross-cutting issues affecting regional trade emerged from the discussion of the country reports including the need to:

    • Conduct cost-benefit analysis type of studies on the implications of existing and pending regional and international trade agreements on individual countries;
    • Identify and analyze existence of Non-tariff and technical barriers to trade between countries;
    • Document and disseminate information on grades and standards as well as sanitary and phytosanitary standards applicable to the different countries as a first step towards rationalization and/or harmonization of these measures within the region;
    • Examine closely cross boundary effects of domestic policies including effects of transport regulations, value-added-tax as well as border customs regulations.


  7. COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES

    Since communication is one of the most important aspect of a network such as FANRPAN, the workshop devoted a significant time to issues affecting it. The in-coming communications specialist for the FANRPAN Regional Coordinating Unit, Mrs Mabel Hungwe, introduced the discussion. Mrs Hungwe gave an overview of existing communications mechanisms as well as her vision of what the network needed to set up. In particular, the two major external communications vehicles needed to be strengthened - the website and newsletter. The presentation and subsequent discussion raised a number of issued and recommendations including the need to:

    • Regularly update the website;
    • Widen the reach of the newsletters through distribution in an e-mail format.
    • Translate newsletter into Portuguese to accommodate readers in Mozambique and Angola;
    • Use other forms of media to disseminate information e.g policy briefs, books, journals, etc
    • Elaborate collaboratively a regional communication strategy for FANRPAN
    • Foster regional ownership to entice analysts in all participating countries to contribute to the generation of information for the communications instruments


  8. FANRPAN-SADC HUB Linkages

    As a regional policy network, FANRPAN has always sought ways of improving its impact on regional policy making. The prime regional policy making body in Southern Africa is SADC. Informally FANRPAN has been exploring ways of effectively linking with SADC without losing focus of its mandate. Dr Natasha Mukherjee, Sector Economist with the SADC Food Security and Rural Development Multi-Donor Hub gave an overview of the relationship which FANRPAN and her organisation have been building over the past two years and areas in which the two institutions could immediately collaborate. She highlighted the broad range of synergy that existed between the two institutions which had culminated in them agreeing to co-locate and collaborate. Dr Murkherjee emphasised the paramount need for FANRPAN to maintain its autonomy. Whereas the emphasis of FANRPAN is articulating the concerns and needs and building consensus among primary stakeholders in member countries, that of the HUB was in facilitating implementation through raising of resources and needed support expertise of development. There exists possibilities of complementarities among the two organizations.

    At present the HUB was facilitating regional information exchange and capacity building in the fields of grades and standards, sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures as well as interpreting WTO issues. Since these same issues were identified at FANRPAN's country stakeholder meetings as critical, and affecting regional trade, there exist opportunities for the two organisations to collaborate in this exercise.


  9. IN-COMING REGIONAL COORDINATOR'S VIEWS ON THE WAY FORWARD

    The workshop participants had the opportunity to hear the vision for FANRPAN by the new Network Co-ordinator, Mr Howard K. Sigwele. Mr Sigwele stressed the need for FANRPAN to be an effective interface between government technocrats, rural stakeholders, agribusiness and regional SADC organs. It was therefore paramount that the network be owned and recognized by all these stakeholders. To enhance credibility it was important for FANRPAN to have credible and consistent data. The network was challenged to approach policy analysis in its totality.

    One of the important cross-cutting policy issues facing SADC was the global trade regime repositioning. Currently the SADC position on the WTO negotiations were being addressed. FANRPAN was tasked to take this opportunity to support this process. A host of issues that need research included those pertaining to access to markets, export subsidies, definition of so-called 'green box' provisions, natural resources conventions on bio-diversity, bio-technology, and the issue of genetically modified organisms (GMO's). The SADC negotiators also needed guidance on issues governing trade and competition as well as labour standards.

    Mr Sigwele also gave a broad overview on how he perceives as the future for FANRPAN to be. He felt that the FANRPAN strategy should take into account the current restructuring taking place in SADC in order to maximise its regional impact. For FANRPAN to be effective, there was need for it to collaborate with other institutions such as IFPRI, among others, to assist in areas where FANRPAN may not have a comparative advantage. In the short-term, Mr Sigwele planned to address Sectoral Ministers of Agriculture & Natural Resources in the region on how FANRPAN could assist in policy analysis. Mr Sigwele promised to engage the country representative nodes to assess needs.


  10. THE WAY FORWARD

    Institutional

    There was need to finalise the constitution of FANRPAN. The regional office would put together information from nodes in the form of a draft constitution, which would then be discussed by a team of country participants. Recommendations of this meeting would be incorporated in the final draft, which would be presented for ratification by the regional stakeholder meeting planned for the first quarter of 2002. In the interim, the current steering committee would remain in place. Currently the financial and legal management of the network was being managed through the Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension at the University of Zimbabwe.

    Communication and Networking

    FANRPAN should facilitate the putting together of a communications strategy covering both internal and external communications. The existing communications tools such as the newsletter and website needed to be improved and their distribution widened. The communications tools should also ensure maximum contributions from country nodes.
Policy Research

There was need to engage country programmes on policy research as a matter of urgency. Nodes were tasked to:

  • Create databases of expertise and capacity in countries
  • Finalise research agendas for the individual countries
  • Raise financial resources for the country programmes from bilateral and multilateral sources
  • Prepare proposals on in-country activities.
  • Co-opt themselves into on-going already funded research such as the USAID on grades and standards, and market development. Nodes should prepare proposals to utilise the funds from USAID/SPAAR.
Operational Issues

To help improve the effectiveness of the network and its structures there was need to:
  • Raise funds to cover some of the operating costs of nodes
  • Develop standard research policy guidelines to ensure quality output
  • Finalise the establishment of the regional scientific committee to act as a quality assurance body supporting research activities of the network.
Conclusion

This report represents the summary of the regional stakeholder meeting, the sharing of research results and ideas on how the network would like to move forward. The speed of implementation of the agenda that was set out in this report will undoubtedly be greatly improved with the help of the full-time staff the network now employs. This could not have been done without the generosity of the USAID-RCSA office that provided the resources to cover administrative costs of the regional office. During the past formative years of FANRPAN, the network has managed to register its presence largely through the support from the CTA-EU (ACP) who through the tireless work of Dr Jose Filipe Fonseca, have helped with finance and ideas to enable FANRPAN to hold the last two stakeholder learning and exchange meetings as well as development of the network newsletter and website. It is hoped the enthusiasm shown at all regional stakeholders including our regional partners, will be rewarded by the development of a vibrant and responsive policy analysis network which will be the pride of Southern Africa.

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