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FANRPAN: Strategy and business plan - September 2007
Strategy and business plan for Institutionalizing FANRPAN as a Recognized Source of Quality Evidence-Based Policy Research and Effective Advocacy for Agriculture and Natural Resources in Southern Africa
September 2007


Challenges in Meeting the Need for Effective Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policies in Southern Africa

The Evolution of FANRPAN

Africa is in desperate need of a policy environment that can rekindle the agricultural sector and promote equitable economic growth. The need is greater than ever, and especially pressing for southern Africa where agricultural growth and productivity have been stagnant over the past twenty years: agricultural incomes have declined and food insecurity and poverty have increased markedly; human population growth is outpacing food production and animal population growth is putting pressure on grazing resources and water availability; unsustainable agricultural and natural resources management practices as well as global environmental changes threaten the resource base; and, the HIV and AIDS scourge, which is most severe in southern Africa, is further exacerbating the food situation in an already food and nutrition insecure region.

SADC and COMESA Ministers of Agriculture Recommend the Formation of Regional Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). At a regional Ministerial meeting held in Harare in 1994, Ministers of Agriculture from Southern and Eastern Africa (now COMESA and SADC) acknowledged that the stagnation in yields and farm incomes could not be attributed solely to climatic and demographic factors. The low productivity and profitability of agriculture and the failure of agricultural markets to expand, as well as the persistence of rural poverty and unemployment, were noted as clear evidence that policies intended to promote agriculture and rural development were not working well. The Ministers recommended the formation of sub-regional organizations that could allow farmers, the agribusiness sector and researchers to make inputs into policy development processes for the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) sectors. This led to the birth of FANRPAN, which was championed in 1997 by Permanent Secretaries in Ministries of Agriculture and University Deans from Faculties of Agriculture representing eight (8) southern African countries (Botswana, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique).

The promoters of FANRPAN recognized from the onset that the regional dimension of policy analysis required much greater collaboration among key stakeholders (farmers and the agribusiness sector as well as researchers) than had hitherto existed. In 2001, FANRPAN finalized its constitution and five year strategic plan (2002-2007). The network was formerly registered in 2002 as a regional network designed to promote the dissemination of policy research results across the region, the engagement of the research community with policy decision-makers, and the involvement in policy dialogues of other stakeholders such as farmers’ organizations, agribusiness and civil society organizations. The establishment of FANRPAN was seen as providing an opportunity for the southern African region to reduce dependence on “external supply” as the major source of policy advice. The early programs of FANRPAN focused primarily on markets and trade, a particular concern at a time when intra-regional trade patterns were expected to change with the evolution of the Southern Africa Development Community and with changes in the global trading environment.

Changes in the Policy, Research and Networking Environment. To date, FANRPAN’s original objectives remain valid. There have, however, been important changes in both the policy environment and the research and networking environment within which FANRPAN has operated since 2002. Equally important, there have been developments within FANRPAN itself which have compelled the review and updating of the original strategy (2002-07). Finally, there are lessons that have been learnt from both the strengths and limitations of the first strategy period that must be taken into account in the next eight year strategy (2007-2015).

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