By Freeman Ngulu.
23 December 2016 – Dutch agricultural firm, Agriterra, concluded the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions Organisation (SACAU) assessment in Malawi and Namibia recently.
The mission was part of the overall assessment of SACAU’s readiness to implement the Annual General Meeting (AGM) resolution of separating SACAU’s core functions of lobby and advocacy from its other functions such as development work.
Agriterra provides farmer organisations and cooperatives in developing economies with expert advice to strengthen their systems in the fight against hunger and poverty while also linking them to Dutch businesses.
Ishmael Sunga, SACAU, CEO, said that now that consultations are done, implementation is expected in 2017. “The Agriterra team, accompanied by a member of the secretariat, had successful meetings with both our members in Malawi and Namibia, with very positive outcomes,” he added.
The visit and assessment by Agriterra to the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) and the Namibian National Farmers’ Union (NNFU) comprised of Mr Niek Thijssen, Business Advisor, and M. Klaas Johan Osinga the Senior Policy Advisor for Dutch Farmers’ Organization (LTO).The team was accompanied by Mr Benito Eliasi of SACAU.
“Our energetic team consists of 80 motivated professionals who combine scientific thinking with a practical approach. We strengthen farmer ownership and stimulate economic growth,” said Managing Director of Agriterra, Kees Boland.
According to Boland, all four farmers organisations visited are positive about the separation of powers within SACAU and identified a number of values through a re-organised SACAU.
However, Boland said it was clear that the four organisations had different demands and levels of expertise to supply towards the agri agency.
Boland said, the SACAU business plan for the agri agency will accommodate those differences in order to make the agency work for all SACAU member organisations.
“One of the important recommendations of the team is that the new agency must generate enough traffic to become a central hub for farmers organisations, their donors and other possible clients in,” he said.
“This will require stakeholder mapping, market research, lobbying, communication & training and high quality of experts. In addition, the Agriterra model of agri-agency also serves as an example to the SACAU agri-agency,” he added.
Meanwhile, one of the CEOs that was contacted alluded to the fact that “the agri agency must get off on an excellent start and that SACAU cannot afford to “mess up” at the commencement of this noble task”.
These sentiments were encored by the assessment team members who stated that the business plan must include elements on market demand, marketing by using a name that clearly separates the agency from SACAU Advocacy, communications, and positioning.
Furthermore, the team recommended a ‘step-by-step approach’ to assure a gradual transfer of SACAU development activities into the agri agency.