Network of peasant organizations and producers in west africa (roppa)

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Niamey, 27 June 2003

Gathered in Niamey on 25, 26 and 27 June 2003, a few days before the Maputo, Mozambique, summit, the representatives of the ROPPA platforms address to the ministers of agriculture and to the ECOWAS and African heads of states the following declaration:
The Network of Peasant Organizations and Producers in West Africa abides by the ambition of the NEPAD for an agriculture which aims at eliminating hunger in the African continent, reduce poverty and food insecurity and increase exports.
To that end, the continent’s heads of states have committed themselves by 2015 to achieve food security for populations, by ensuring :

  • food availability and accessibility;

  • growth in agricultural productivity by at least 6% per year;

  • the stimulation of local, national and sub-regional agricultural


  • integration to market economy by making the continent

become a net exporter of agricultural products.
The Peasant Organizations and Agricultural Producers noticed that the vision, orientations and strategies proposed in the main documents - the NEPAD Agricultural Program and the Regional Programs on Food Security and the Detailed Program for the Development of the African Agriculture- are not new proposals.
In fact, the major priorities proposed are the same since negotiations started and the implementation of Agricultural Structural Adjustments Programs, that is to:

  • increase production, mainly for export;

  • clarify land rights to facilitate land recording for the most


  • access external markets;

  • promote the private sector and entrepreneurship;

  • promote research and technologies.

The Peasant Organizations and Agricultural Producers in West Africa strongly regrets that the vision, orientations and strategies of the NEPAD have not been sufficiently discussed and negotiated with the main actors which are smallholdings and their associations.

The procedure used up to now does not yet correspond to the NEPAD founding principles which are the living strength internal mobilization, African resources and partnership.

The international economic environment in which will be implemented the NEPAD ambition for an African agriculture is chiefly featured by the following items:

  • the prices for the majority of our export products decrease

continually despite the performance we achieve to improve


  • the development of tropical products under green houses in

Europe and the US is a threat to our products, and with the

support given to such products in the North, the end result will

be the diminution of our share of the market;

  • the excessive debts of our states which put us under the

supervision of financing institutions and their donors, thus

mortgaging their rooms for maneuver for any support provided

to smallholdings;

  • our dependence which goes increasing and which is worrying as

regards import of food that we produce locally (wheat, beet, oil

producing plants coming from Europe)

  • the real threats on natural resources : can African reserves

be profitable to African whereas in the North,

the depletion of such resources trigger off expansion;

  • the massive departure of the youth from rural areas to other

horizons mortgage the future of tens of thousand of families as

concerns continuity in smallholding exploitation.

In such context, it is impossible for African peasants to compete on the international market and also to bank on the World Trade Organization for a fair implementation of equitable economic rules. Our pessimism relies on the fact that the WTO has little chance to success where the UN failed.
That is the reason why relying chiefly on growth and the development of the African agriculture regarding exports and external markets does not offer any guarantee to meet the challenges to feed African populations or to put at its disposal durable opportunities which generate decent income.
The Peasant Organizations and Agricultural Producers are convinced that the priority given to the domestic consumption of what we produce and which corresponds to our culture, sociology and history represents the future.
Such an option is in line with the wish of the NEPAD heads of states to make agriculture become a vast sector of economic progress and the driving force behind the economic growth of the other segments of our economies.
In this respect, the Peasant Organizations and Agricultural Producers in West Africa solemnly sealed in front of populations and the continent’s political authorities the following commitments:

  1. Increase durably our productivity: to ensure availability and

accessibility in quality and quantity of food for our

populations and also raw material for industries, African small-sized

and-medium firms working in the processing of our local


  1. Organize our professions so that they become efficient: to

provide to smallholding services and goods they need, to defend

their interests and concerns, to create essential partnerships with

other professions and actors.
However, we need the support of States and Regional Economic Organizations to commit themselves to

  1. the fair treatment of agriculture in the allocation of budget

resources: the development of agriculture, notably the one aiming

at the recapture of our own markets cannot be financed from

external resources which equally aim at “capturing” our

food demand. The dependence in this area should be progressively


  1. extend good governance to rural civil society : our states

should stop doing in the agricultural sector what they are not doing

in other economic sectors. The organization and management of

agricultural professions, while being regulated by statutory law,

derive from the initiative and autonomy in decision making by

peasants and agricultural producers.

  1. implement, and according to the partnership spirit of the

NEPAD, in countries, the sub-regions and the continent, tools

and mechanisms to support private investment and

smallholdings : the history of agricultural development in other

continents taught that the support to agriculture is essential for its

development and in return, the sector strengthens national

sovereignty. Viable support mechanisms and tools, attractive for

smallholdings, are the necessary levers to ensure growth expected

by the NEPAD in terms of agricultural productivity.

The Peasant Organizations and Agricultural Producers, despite the tragedies faced by their members and which are : poverty, HIV/AIDS, undernourishment, food and people’s insecurity, massacres and killings in armed conflict, are still convinced that the sustainable development of agriculture in Africa is an historic process: it cannot be identical to another, given the ecological, human and temporal different conditions.
The NEPAD by opening a consulting frame between the continent’s actors and by ranking the latter as the priority, makes us expect great hopes.
The Peasant Organizations and Agricultural Producers have, through their work, and the fruit of their work, greatly contributed to the creation of states and towns. They are still capable, on condition they recover their place they merit, to meet with the states, the other actors and the international community the challenges which call upon the entire continent.
Consulting, dialog and the attentive listening to the other are still real values in Africa: their use, by all but above all by the highest political authorities of the continent can bring us within the circle of nations which are today the object of envy, because people are not hungry, one can see a doctor when one is sick, one can travel, communicate and cultivate one’s mind when the need arises.

Niamey, 27 June 2003

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