FOs call for more open dialogue, representation and participation with government on GAFSP at country level
As support organization for the GAFSP CSO Asia representative, the Asian Farmers’ Association (AFA) held a regional consultation about GAFSP and other agriculture -related programs among its members and partners last May 8, 2014 in Bali, Indonesia. The consultation was held during the 6th AFA General Assembly with the theme “Seizing the Momentum to Get Concrete Gains for Small Scale Farmers this IYFF,” which was attended by 30 men and 10 women from 17 national farmer organizations in 13 countries, as well as partners and supporters from Agriterra, Collectif Stratégies Alimentaires (CSA), AsiaDHRRA, World Rural Forum (WRF), Food and Agriculture Organization Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (FAORAP), Asia Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutes (APAARI), Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR), International Land Coalition (ILC) Asia and Konsorsium Pembaruan Agraria (KPA).
The Union of Water Users’ Association (UWUA) presented its experience in engaging the Kyrgyztan government in its GAFSP project where $37.0 million is allocated to fund an Agriculture Productivity and Nutrition Improvement Project (APNIP) to rehabilitate irrigation and drainage systems, build the capacity of water user associations (WUAs), and provide agricultural extension services. The project aims to increase agricultural productivity and food security of rural households in selected areas nationwide. It has the following components: (1) Rehabilitation and modernization of physical irrigation and drainage (I&D) infrastructure; (2) Institutional development and capacity building; (3) Agricultural advisory services; (4) Scaling-up Nutrition interventions and social protection; and (5) Project management. It will benefit 48,000 smallholder farmers, i.e. 216,000 individuals, including 20% women-led households. The project has been approved and will be implemented in 2015. UWUA was involved in project design and project proposal promotion, peer review of the project proposal documentations, and lobbying for Parliament project ratification. There are issues and needs identified such as low awareness and technical capacity of UWUA at national and local levels.
While the UWUA is being involved in the design processes of GAFSP, FOs from other GAFSP recipient countries called for more meaningful involvement. Alauddin Sikder, Secretary General of Kendrio Krishok Moitree (KKM) said that, while FOs are involved in the capacity building activities of FAO under its Technical Assistance component, FOs still does not have a seat in the National Steering/Management Committees and thus are not able to exact more accountability from this Project. In Mongolia, the participant from the National Association of Mongolian Agricultural Cooperatives (NAMAC) said that the organization has been nominated to represent the FOs in the steering committee, but the project has yet to take place and no meeting has been held yet. In Nepal, the FO Nepal Peasant Coalition (NPC) represents the FO in the national steering committee. However, elections have stalled the implementation of the Project, but FOs are hopeful because a new Minister of Agriculture from the FO leadership had been appointed.
During the workshop with other FOs, one of the issues identified is how to help FOs catch up with the program and how to address problems and difficulties in FO participation in the program. The CSOs recommended that there should be a more open dialogue between FOs and government partners in each country on GAFSP. Moreover, field visits should be conducted to disseminate more widely the information about GAFSP. They also identified support needed to build capacity to engage in agriculture development programs like joint meetings at country level with implementing organizations, institutional capacity building for FOs and capacity building for advocacy.