The Pan African Farmers' Organisation (PAPO) delegation, led by its President, Theo de Jager, has paid a courtesy visit to the Bank Group in Abidjan, to explore areas of collaboration with the Bank. The delegation held a series of technical meetings with the Bank's Agriculture and agroindustry Department (OSAN), the Civil Society Organisation Division (CSO). It also held talks with Bank Group President, Akinwumi Adesina and his cabinet members and reached key agreements including:
- Establishing a formal partnership between the Bank and PAFO. The CSO Division and OSAN will represent the Bank.
- In the process of developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), PAFO regional members will share with the Bank best practices of partnership that have worked well with similar institutions.
- In the context of these discussions, PAFO would prepare a draft concept note highlighting the way forward, to share with the African Development Bank.
In this regards, President Adesina reiterated the importance of the Bank working with CSOs and stakeholders "in a special way" to implement the High 5s, in particular with farmers' organisations like PAFO to deliver the High 5s on agriculture transformation.
"Our visit to the African Development Bank today, is an important first. This is the best time to engage with the Bank. We listened to the AfDB's newly adopted agricultural strategy to transform Africa. This is a great idea for the continent," Theo de Jager told the Bank's Communication department, underscoring the relevance and the role the two institutions would play in meeting the Bank's new vision to "Feed Africa" and to increase agricultural production in the continent. "We need to build stout partnerships, given the Bank Group's strong commitment to make agriculture the engine of Africa's transformation. Our two organizations would work and take advantage of our partnership to meet the goal of feeding Africa through agriculture," he said.
Theo de Jager also highlighted access to finance, capacity building and technology (ICT) for women farmers and the youth. "We have a special programme to capture the youth and women in agriculture, but it will not be possible without capacity building, access to finance and technology."
It is worth recollecting that the Bank Group gave a strong signal in engaging with the CSOs, especially with the appointment of a Special Adviser to the President in charge of Civil Society Organisations. In this dynamic, the institution has placed CSOs at the heart of the High 5s. This was the focus of the 2016 Forum during the Annual Meetings in Lusaka, where management held high-level discussions on strengthening dialogue with CSOs concerning the energy, agriculture and youth employment.
PAFO is the continental umbrella platform for the continent's farmers and producers. The goal of PAFO is to make the voice of the African farmers and producers heard, and to promote their involvement in the drafting and implementation of development policies that affect agriculture and rural development at the continental level. Also in attendance were the representatives of the five sub-regional organisations, including Fatma Ben Rejeb, CEO, PAPO; Eastern Africa: Philip Kiriro (President) and Stephen Muchiri (CEO); Central Africa: Elizabeth Atangana (President) and Gustave Ewole (Executive); Western Africa: Djibo Bagna (President) and Ousseini Ouedraogo (CEO); Southern Africa: Theo de Jager (President and PAFO President) and Ishmael Sunga (CEO); Northern Africa: Abdelmajid Ezzar, Representative of the President and Mamadou Cissokho as a resource person.