Declaration of Civil Society Organizations at the 28th FAO Regional Conference for Africa

March 27, 2014



We, African civil society organizations composed of farmers, herders/pastoralists, artisanal fisherfolk, consumers, NGOs, human rights movements, women, youth, academics, artisans, indigenous people urban poor, we met in Tunis on 21 and 22 March 2014 as part of the 28th FAO Regional Conference for Africa, and after discussing the situation in the agricultural development of Africa, food security and nutrition, family farms, natural resources (land, water, pasture, forests, etc.), we  make the following observations:

Participants appreciate:

1-    the establishment of the FAO strategic framework for partnership with civil society. They appreciate the efforts of PAFO and its member UMNAGRI for organizing this consultation which brought together participants from 35 African countries with a representation of 47% women ;

2-    the efforts of the CSA through the adoption of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests ;

3-    the efforts of the African Union, NEPAD and regional integration institutions to maintain and strengthen participatory and inclusive processes in the formulation and implementation of policies and programs;

4-    the effective implementation of the trust fund decided at the 27th FAO Regional Conference for the activities of States. Encourage the participants to continue their efforts to consolidate this background and taking into account the funding youth projects in agriculture in the portfolio of this fund eligible projects;

However, participants noted :

1-    weak legal and regulatory frameworks in Africa to support agricultural projects for young people;

2-    insufficient consideration by the land policies of access and tenure security needs of vulnerable groups such as youth, women , indigenous peoples , etc. .

3-    inconsistency in policies, programs and projects at different levels (local, national, regional and continental ), often creating large gaps in their implementation , compromising the achievement of food security and nutrition as well as actions on reduction of poverty in the countries;

4-    communication gap between the players in the food security for the decentralization of FAO;

In addition, this year 2014 was declared by the UN General Assembly on December 22, 2011 in New York as the International Year of Family Farming. Participants noted:

1-    low public investment in favor of family farms and this is manifested , among other things, by the mixed record of the Maputo commitments after 11 years and the low implementation of CAADP ;

2-    failure mechanisms and financing tools tailored to the needs and realities of family farms ;

3-    orientation of funding for industrial agriculture with the Public / Private Partnerships is not  always an appropriate instrument to support family farming approach;

To account for these findings, which were the subject of our discussions for two days, we ask:

1-    Concerning African Youth in agricultural and rural entrepreneurship:

  1. Develop and adopt consistent policies that promote integration of young people in agriculture instead of supporting industrial agricultural businesses sources of land grabbing in different countries ;
  2. Put in place in all countries funding mechanisms and investment tailored to youth entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector,  mainly establish in each country special funds for agricultural projects of young people;
  3. Put in place in all countries sufficient and quality frameworks and mechanisms of vocational training tailored to agriculture and rural youth entrepreneurship where they do not exist and consolidate existing ones.
  4. Develop an inclusive mechanism of dialogue involving governments, youth organizations and other stakeholders.

2-    With regards to the state of food and agriculture and the implementation of CAADP

  1. Establish frameworks and inclusive mechanisms for monitoring, evaluation and capitalization of all commitments in terms of policies, programs and public projects ;
  2. Better targeting of support needs to family farms in the framework of CAADP to ensure their  modernization and their sustainability on the long term ;
  3. Strengthen the protection of agricultural and food markets to support the process of regional and continental integration through the implementation of the free movement of persons and goods;
  4. Promote insurance and agricultural risk management systems ;

3-    Regarding the CFS , participants value the various thematic reports prepared by the CFS and enjoy the last UN special report on the right to food, and :

  1. encourage States to engage in decisions to implement recommendations;
  2. request that the process of working of  CFS is implemented at all levels of regions and countries;
  3. urge governments to implement the Voluntary Guidelines in their national context by implementing inclusive approaches including the creation of spaces for formal dialogue involving all stakeholders with particular attention to small producers and young agricultural entrepreneurs, strengthening the implementation of guidelines and monitoring and evaluation of all undertaken actions ;
  4. require accountability of States in relation to useful and relevant agricultural investments taking into account the view of agricultural policies already developed or under development ;
  5. strongly condemn land grabbing and demand a moratorium on industrial agro- fuel production on the continent.

4-    Regarding the process of decentralization of FAO , while supporting it, participants  :

  1. recommend that the process be inclusive , transparent and consistent;
  2. request that the policies and programs of the regional offices are defined through a space for dialogue with all groups of actors ;
  3. approve the proposal to consolidate regional offices into two entities, but this should be accompanied by appropriate measures including strengthening national offices;
  4. believe that this empowerment requires an increase in human and financial resources including the appointment of a focal point dedicated to partnerships with civil society in all FAO country offices and the enhanced decision-making power of these offices for certain activities;
  5.  require States to communicate regularly about the decentralization of FAO to address weaknesses in time.

5-    In addition, participants strongly recommend:

  1.    that agricultural research is funded by the public sector as a priority and they are based on  local knowledge ;
  2. Governments and FAO to contribute positively to the initiatives undertaken by civil society including farmers’ organizations in the framework of the International Year of Family Farming in 2014 ;
  3.    to support the process of African Rural Women’s Forum

6-    Finally, as regards more specifically to fishing , we consider that a common vision and approach to African fisheries would address many transboundary challenges and shared marine and freshwater resources, especially those accessed by small scale fishing communities . In this respect, the participants:

  1. noted that the African Union and NEPAD are currently busy conducting a major review of fishing on the continent to develop a strategic plan for the African fishing to the next Conference of African Ministers of Fisheries and the aquaculture;
  2. urge to actively involve organizations of fishers from across the continent , in the above mentioned process so that their concerns are integrated into its results, and to make this more meaningful and productive discussion.

The Consultation of Civil Society Organisations in Africa (CSOs):

  • fully supports the FAO and its renewed management focus on the eradication of hunger in close collaboration with civil society and other non-state actors ;
  • support the transformations of the FAO that have been brought during the last two years, under the guidance of General José Graziano da Silva ;
  • welcome the opportunity provided by FAO to contribute effectively to the Regional Conference and participate fully in the activities of FAO at the national , regional and international level

Thus, CSOs welcome and encourage FAO to continue in the same way for years to come.

We, organizations of civil society, are committed to continuing our structuring to meet the challenges of professionalization. In addition, we are ready to lead advocacy and citizen watch in order to achieve our demands to the different actors makers at different levels.

Made in Tunis, March 22nd, 2014 Consultation with organizations of the African Civil Society in the context of the 28th Regional Conference for Africa.