Regional Agricultural Policy - Country Summary Agricultural Policy Review Reports
SADC Regional Agricultural Policy
The agriculture sector features prominently in the SADC regional economy, contributing in the different Member States between 4% and 27% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). About 70% of the population depend on agriculture for food, income and employment. Agriculture is also a major source of exports in several countries, contributing on average about 13% to total export earnings and about 66% to the value of intra-regional trade. For these reasons, the performance of agriculture has a strong influence on the rate of economic growth, the level of employment, demand for other goods, economic stability, food security and overall poverty eradication. Most governments of the SADC Member States are, however, fully aware that in recent decades food production, donor aid flows, government budgetary allocations to agriculture and rural development have declined while food imports, food aid, and population have substantially increased.
The need for macroeconomic and sectoral policy convergence and harmonization have been fully recognized as prerequisites for accelerated shared growth and regional economic integration in the Declaration, Treaty and Protocol of SADC signed in 1992. Article 5.1. (e) and Article 5.2 (a) state under Objectives that SADC shall:
“achieve complementarity between national and regional strategies.” and “harmonize political and economic policies and plans of Member States.” while Article 21.2 states, under Areas of Cooperation that: “Member States shall, though appropriate institutions of SADC, coordinate, rationalize and harmonize their overall macroeconomic and sectoral policies strategies, programmes and projects in the areas of cooperation. (a) food security, land and agriculture.”
Article 29 of the SADC Protocol on Trade provides for the Coordination of Trade Policies.
“Member States shall, to their best endeavour, coordinate their trade policies and negotiating positions in respect of relations with third countries or groups of third countries and international organizations as provided for in Article 24 of the Treaty, to facilitate and accelerate the achievement of the objectives of this Protocol.”
In the Declaration on Productivity of 1999, SADC Member States noted that the region continued to record low levels of economic growth; low levels of investment; high levels of unemployment and poverty; lack of competitiveness of regional economies; and intra-regional and inter-regional economic disparities, all which negatively impact on the SADC region’s development, integration and competitiveness.
In 2003, the same trends were noted in the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Plan (RISDP). In an effort to reverse this trend, the RISDP suggested a roadmap for the agriculture sector that emphasized focus on improved food availability; access to food and improved nutritional value of food while minimizing food losses, improving forecasting, prevention, mitigation and recovery from adverse effects of natural disasters; and improving the institutional framework. The RISDP further noted that “the absence of a binding legal instrument on food security and agricultural development is a major weakness in the food security strategy”.
The SADC Dar-es-Salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security, signed by SADC Heads of State in May 2004 further noted that inappropriate national agricultural and food policies and inadequate access by farmers to key agricultural inputs and markets are still major underlying reasons for the prevalence of hunger in the region. The Heads of State called for a series of short and long term measures to address the regional food crisis with emphasis on actions needed to strengthen sectoral cooperation between Members States through the development of coherent regional policies and programmes related to crop and livestock production, protection, storage, processing, utilization and trade.
Food security and agriculture have been given very high priority in the Africa Union (AU) New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) vision and a Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) has been prepared to realize this priority. At the initiative of FAO and with the collaboration of the NEPAD Steering Committee and the African Development Bank, a high level meeting organized in Abuja 7-12 December 2002 took a number of decisions, chief among which included harmonization of policies, programmes and initiatives of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in the continent.
The SADC-Donor Consultative Conference held in Windhoek, Namibia in April 2006 also noted the absence of coherent policies to support agricultural development at both national and regional level as one of the major impediments to agricultural growth in general and food security in particular. Consequently, the conference recommended the development of a harmonized regional agricultural policy, aligned to national policies, that is consistent with the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and the SADC Dar-es-Salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security.