The SADC Secretariat has published a document setting out the purpose and conceptual framework of the SADC regional agricultural policy (RAP), the various policy commitments made, and the policy implementation mechanisms.
The document summarises the current performance of the agricultural sector in SADC and lists the major challenges faced (low labour productivity, low land productivity and low yields). It is estimated that currently, non-tariff barriers affect about one third of agriculture trade in the region.
The document sets out the principles that guide SADC agricultural policy, notably subsidiarity, additionality, complementarity, proportionality, coherence, partnership and consultation, environmental sustainability, solidarity and market integration.
Key policy objectives set out in the document include:
- enhancing sustainable agricultural production, productivity and competitiveness;
- improving regional and international trade and access to markets of agricultural products;
- improving private and public sector engagement and investment in the agricultural value-chains;
- reducing social and economic vulnerability of the regions population in the context of food and nutrition security.
Several areas for project and programme interventions are identified. In addition, a range of policy commitments are made, the most significant of which relate to:
- harmonising sanitary and phytosanitary regulations and national veterinary service systems in line with international standards;
- promoting harmonisation of product standards, where these constitute barriers to trade;
- rationalising and simplifying rules of origin;
- developing approaches to the successful elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade in intra-regional inputs and outputs (including export bans and similar trade disincentives);
- eliminating tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade in extra-regional inputs;
- developing increased consultations on tariff and safeguard measures adopted;
- promoting cooperation in international trade negotiations;
- establishing mechanisms to address adjustment costs associated with trade integration;
- promoting cross-border partnerships and investments;
- developing common guidelines on subsidies to agricultural production and investment;
- promoting national and regional commodity exchanges;
- improving and integrating agricultural market information and intelligence systems;
- promoting contract farming, investment in storage, and in related infrastructure and market-friendly food shortage/emergency policies;
- adopting measures to minimise the use of trade-distorting policy measures in response to food shortages;
- promoting farmer organisations and strengthening their bargaining power within value chains;
- promoting the development of regional mechanisms and instruments to support agricultural investment, and eliminating barriers to investment;
- strengthening agricultural and farm systems research in the face of the realities of SADC member states (including the HIV/AIDS pandemic and gender inequality).
The document identifies a range of success factors essential for regional agricultural policy implementation. Importance is attached to:
- identifying those areas which yield the most immediate returns;
- the establishment of an Agricultural Development Fund to support the Regional Agricultural Investment Plan (RAIP), which should be consistent with National Agricultural Investment Plans (NAIPs) under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Plan (CAADP);
- the establishment of a strong monitoring and evaluation system.
The policy aims to implement various measures within a rolling 5-year time frame, with progress being subject to regular review, and planning and implementation the responsibility of the SADC Secretariat and key stakeholders.