From October 20 to 22, The Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) will be holding its Annual Regional Policy Dialogue. Under the prevailing conditions, with the COVID 19 pandemic regulations still in force, the dialogue is going to be virtual, a departure from the traditional three-day event that normally takes place in a selected African country. Mzansi Agri Talk president & CEO Tshepo Phaahla (TP) caught up with Kanto Razafimandimby (KR) of FANRPAN’s Policy Advocacy and Communications Officer to get more details about this event.
TP: Good day Kanto, please spare a few moments to enlighten us about the FANRPAN Annual Policy Dialogue.
KR: Good day Tshepo. Yes, FANRPAN will be holding its Annual Regional Policy Dialogue from the 20th to the 22nd of October. The theme for this year is “Building Better and Resilient Agriculture and Food Systems”. As usual, this is a multi-stakeholder event, bringing together representatives of our different stakeholder groups. There will be representatives from government, farmers, researchers, civil society, private sector, the media, and many others who are concerned about food, agriculture and natural resources.
TP: That’s good. I understand that the dialogue is going to be virtual, and it is the first time?
KR: Yes, this year’s dialogue is going to be virtual. Because of the COVID pandemic and the prevailing restrictions, we cannot travel and congregate in a country. If it wasn’t for the pandemic, the network members had decided on Nigeria as the host for the 2020 dialogue, but sadly, it will have to be next time. As a network, we realized the need to ensure we keep focused on issues related to agriculture and food systems. With the sense of urgency that the pandemic has generated, most attention and resources are being diverted from agriculture and food systems; it is important then to ensure that we do not lose the momentum and gains we had made before the outbreak. The dialogue is partly to ensure that there is an agriculture and food systems lens to looking at the pandemic.
TP: How is the response to this new format, if I may ask?
KR: It is very good I must say. By the end of last week, we had close to 200 delegates registered for the dialogue. I think people have grown to realize that this is the new normal, the new way of doing things, and we have to get on with it. As a network, we have also realized the opportunity to convene several platforms in a less costly way, and one that does not have a huge carbon footprint too.
TP: If I can come back to the dialogue, please share the details, when and how do interested people participate?
KR: The dialogue is a three-day online event from the 20th to the 22nd of October. All sessions promptly at 14:00 hours South African Time, and end at 16:30 hours. Interested parties may register on this link (https://bit.ly/3iW7jFg), and are free to join the online event on the three days.
TP: What should participants expect?
KR: Each of the days is dedicated to a specific theme, all aligned to the overall dialogue theme. There will be a keynote address of the specific day theme, followed by responses from a broad panel of sector experts, then concluded with an open discussion where all participants can ask questions as well as contribute.
TP: What are these specific sub-themes that you mentioned for the different days?
KR: On the first day, the sub theme is ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’, and the focus is on the need to enhance the resilience of farmers and agriculture in the face of a changing climate. For day, we change gears and focus on the ‘Agriculture – Nutrition Nexus’ sub-theme. Given the continental challenge of malnutrition, the main aim for this sub theme is to establish how agriculture can deliver positive nutrition outcomes. The third and final day is focused on ‘Capacity Strengthening’. Day three provides a multi-partner platform for interventions aimed at strengthening food systems research capabilities and the translation of evidence into implementable policy solutions and practical interventions.
TP: What is the main outcome of this dialogue? What should we expect?
KR: All FANRPAN dialogues conclude with a collective set of resolutions. These are multi-stakeholder recommendations aimed at influencing policies that contribute to the transformation of food, agriculture and natural resources. The main recipients of these resolutions are national and regional governments. Because of this ability to feed into policy processes at national and regional levels, it is important that everyone attends and contributes.
TP: Who are you working are you working with as a network?
KR: This dialogue is a multi-partner effort. We have CARE International, OXFAM, COMESA, SADC, GCRF, GRA, ILRI, IDRC, GIZ, ACIAR collaborating with us to deliver this theme.
TP: Thank you Kanto, we will attend and cover this important event.