The Treaty of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) mandates member states to enhance development and cooperation in the agriculture sector, including the realization of food security and, rational and sustainable agricultural production in the Common Market (Chapter 18, Articles 129 to 137). The Treaty further encourages formulation and implementation of a common regional agriculture policy, and attainment of food self-sufficiency. COMESA embraces progressive initiatives that will contribute to achieving its overall mandate, that is: to attain regional integration through trade and investment in key sectors, including agriculture.

Consequently, COMESA launched implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) in its 19 member state region. The CAADP framework was endorsed by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in July 2003 at Maputo, Mozambique, as a vision for the restoration of agricultural growth, food security and rural development in Africa. Designed to bring agriculture back to the pinnacle of development, the CAADP agenda also seeks to advance the poverty reduction agenda in the continent. The framework is perceived, by our African Leaders, as the potential driver for economic growth as well as food and nutrition security.

CAADP is also regarded as a catalyst in the mission to attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly Goal Number 1 of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger with the target of halving the proportion of people living on less than one dollar a day by 2015.COMESA Member States are encouraged to allocate at least 10% of their annual national budgets to the agriculture sector, in order to achieve a well-targeted growth of at least 6% per annum, consistent with the CAADP targets. Key among the principles of CAADP is the need to apply evidence based analysis, broad stakeholder consultation as well as the necessity to build and nurture strategic partnerships aimed at ensuring that investment in the sector is enhanced and directed at four (4) mutually reinforcing pillars:

Pillar I: Extending the area under sustainable land management and reliable water control systems
Pillar II: Improving rural infrastructure and trade related capacities for market access
Pillar III: Increasing food supply, reducing hunger and improving responses to food emergencies and crises
Pillar IV: Improving agriculture research, technology dissemination and adoption

Various cross-cutting issues also inform the various CAADP related intervention areas indicated above. These include: fisheries, forestry, livestock, gender, HIV/AIDS, capacity building and emerging issues such as climate change.

Implementation of the CAADP framework and its processes is gradually transforming the manner in which business is conducted in the COMESA’s agriculture sector today. This continental agenda is effectively shaping related policies, strategies and approaches to programming for agriculture development. Being an Arica-wide continental agenda, CAADP is implemented under the overall coordination of the African Union (AU) and the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA).

CAADP Implementation at Country Level

To date, 16 COMESA member states have officially launched the CAADP implementation process. 11 of these have signed what is commonly known as the ‘National CAADP Compact’, symbolizing collective commitment by all key stakeholder groups involved agricultural development to participate in the process and to invest in collaboratively and carefully selected areas of the sector. Stakeholders include: National Governments, COMESA, Development Partners, Private Sector, Civil Society, Farmers’ Organizations, Researchers and Academics, Women and Youth

Six (6) COMESA countries have finalized their national agriculture and food security investment plans (NAIPs), while four (4) of these have accessed funding from the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP).

CAADP Implementation at Regional Level

COMESA has launched implementation of CAADP at regional level with a two pronged approach – at the level of COMESA and within the context of the EAC, SADC and COMESA Tripartite Framework. To-date COMESA has outlined a Draft Regional CAADP Compact, which is expected to be finalized in 2013. Essentially, various regional and international partners have rallied behind this agenda. The regional CAADP process seeks to promote regional integration through, inter alia, development and implementation of common regional agricultural policies and investments across the entire value chain.

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