Small Scale Agriculture in Southern Africa, from November 9-11, 2009. The aim of the conference was to facilitate deliberations on topical agriculture-related issues that affect the Southern Africa region. The conference brought together civil society organisations, the public sector and other stakeholders to engage in continued debates on development in Africa, and the role of small-scale agriculture in eradicating hunger and poverty.

African states are signatories to the Maputo Declaration of 2003. Under the Maputo Declaration, heads of state of the African Union recognise that it is the responsibility of Africa to invigorate its agricultural sector, increase food production and ensure economic prosperity and the welfare of its people by guaranteeing sustainable food security. Under the declaration, the heads of state acknowledged that 30% of the continent’s population is chronically and severely undernourished. They also recognise that the continent is a net importer of food and the largest recipient of food aid in the world.

To address this dire situation and achieve food sufficiency, food security and economic growth on the continent, the leaders have committed themselves to implement the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), which provides a framework for restoring food security, agricultural growth and rural development in Africa. To achieve these goals, the heads of states agreed to adopt sound agriculture and rural development policies. African leaders also agreed to commit their governments to allocating at least 10% of their national budgets for the implementation of CAADP within 5 years.

It is now more than more than five years since the signing of the Maputo Declaration. Globally, the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the number of people suffering from hunger and poverty by 2015 is halfway through. Yet, development in Africa and the goal of taking its citizens out of poverty leaves a lot to be desired. It is against this backdrop that the conference sought to highlight the gains and challenges faced by the continent in achieving these goals.

The conference brought together Idasa partners from Southern, Eastern, Central and Western Africa who are involved in advocacy, capacity building, and lobbying. Participants also included other stakeholders involved in agriculture and rural development.