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Brazil aspires to be partner, not donor
This is Africa
28 July 2010
Lanre Akinola

Acknowledgements: FANRPAN acknowledges that This is Africa is a registered trademark of The Financial Times Limited and that it is the source of this article


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Brazil is also involved in the Farming First initiative, a collaborative effort between a broad range of international agricultural associations, NGOs and members of the business community, aimed at promoting sustainable agricultural development.

Mr Tarrago believes such cooperation is vital if Brazil's partnership with Africa is to succeed. "This will have to be done with the help of international institutions and donor countries as well, in providing resources to help finance these operations. Brazil can provide the expertise, but when it comes to materialising them you need financing for infrastructure, credit for farmers and so on."

Fanrpan's Dr Sibanda is enthusiastic about this emphasis on partnership, saying that "we have been talking a lot about South-South cooperation, without really tangible examples of people who have walked the talk," she says, arguing that "this cannot be a big brother relationship, it has got to be genuine partnership. I think that is the attractiveness of Brazil."

While this will undoubtedly be a welcome development, it also increases the burden of responsibility on individual governments to implement the appropriate policies to ensure that potential is turned into reality. In this respect, she believes African nations would be wise to learn some crucial lessons from Brazil. "What we can learn from Brazil is the value of political leadership. Leadership that is bold to prioritise what needs to be done, and move forward and set the example," she says.

Getting the policies right, and creating a macroeconomic environment conducive to investment will be critical, she adds. Beyond this, ensuring continuity of such policies will be vital.

How exactly individual governments articulate such policies will be subject to a variety of considerations, but Ms Sibanda contends that there are good reasons to believe Africa is beginning to exhibit the kind of leadership necessary to turn the potential of engagement with countries such as Brazil into tangible results.

She points to examples such as the Comprehensive Agriculture Development Programme, an initiative from the New Partnership for Africa's Development aimed at bringing together national and regional actors to share knowledge and experience in the field of agriculture throughout Africa. Eighteen countries have so far signed up to the programme, which has four pillars or policy priorities; land and water management, market access, food supply and hunger, and agricultural research.

Some of Africa's regional economic communities, such as the Economic Community of West African States and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, are actively articulating their own agricultural priorities.

"For once Africa is organised," Ms Sibanda says, adding that "what's exciting is that when you have a plan, no one can derail you. You are able to benchmark, you are able to direct help into building onto the priorities that you have identified. And that's what makes Africa unique these days."

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