West Africa Farmers Alliance (WAFA) consists of West Africa Agricultural Cooperatives (WAGRICOOPS) and West Africa Farmers Organization (WAFO). The creation and bringing together of WAGRICOOPS, WAFO and WAFA is not a recent development. They date back to 2009 when Coalition of Farmers Ghana (COFAG), FAKA Cooperative Network Ghana (FAKACOOP) and Ghana Cooperative Agricultural Producers and Marketing Association (AGRIC COOP Ghana) started talking about cooperation and alliances at the National Level and the need to reach out to the West Africa Regional Level to engage with one another as Farmer-to-farmer, FO-to FO and Coop-to-Coop and build exchanges of experiences, expertise and creating formidable common front for Advocacy and Policy influence at National, Sub-Regional, Continental and Global Levels. In so doing it was necessary to reach out to the FOs and Agri Coops in the other four Anglophone West African Countries of the Commonwealth-Nigeria, The Gambia, Sierra-Leone and Liberia- for the historical characteristics, common challenges, similar working approaches, similar legal frameworks, ease of communication and for practical and logistical purposes. WAFA is an Alliance of the willing, respecting freedom of association, giving that there are more than one Farmers Platforms in several Countries and most Farmers do not belong to a Group hence innovative and alternative Institutional arrangement in reaching them is even more imperative. Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra-Leone and the Gambia have currently submitted applications for WAFA Membership which has been approved.
Although a Multi-lingual approach for all Fifteen Countries of the whole of West Africa would have been desirable, it was not possible for an effort funded initially by farmers, mainly smallholders, with limited linguistic capabilities. It was held however as practicable that efforts will be made to reach out to regional Groupings in Francophone West Africa, other sub-regions, at the Continental and also at Global levels such as with SACAU, EAFF, ROPPA, Pan-African Farmers Organization-PAFO and World Farmers Organization (WFO) respectively, in due course when negotiated modalities and opportunities facilitate this for an inclusive partnership. In particular WAFA will seek the cooperation of its member in Ghana, COFAG (which is already member of WFO) to encourage its other members in the remaining 4 countries to also seek membership in the World Farmers Organization (WFO), and support such membership application efforts. WAFA led the Commonwealth Countries in Africa to come together for their common historical heritage as Africa Farmers Alliance (AFA) which ultimately converges at Commonwealth Framers Organisation (CFO) With the Collaborating Secretariat of all these Commonwealth Farmers Organisations globally hosted in Ghana. WAFA also creates opportunities, International linkages, beneficial relationships, financial resources and business opportunities from multiple sources for its members. WAFA Regional Networks began with commonalities between them as English-speaking West Africa. As usual with forming Networks, Alliances and working modalities, initial challenges emerge, which sometimes delay processes and outcomes, but the will and interest is still there to have WAFA and its constituent Regional and National Organizations go forward with the idea of a formidable common front among farmers and their Organizations, at National, Regional, Continental and Global Levels.
WAFA aims at adding Value to its member Farmers Organizations (FOs), their members and farmers, through modern, innovative, professional and entrepreneurial initiatives and practices that enable FOs, their members and farmers to operate as productive, profitable and sustainable businesses of pride, which are eventually self-financing and independent. WAFA like AFA and CFO or other National , Regional members of CFO in other Continents view Smallholder and Family Farmers as Small business people and Small farming businesses respectively whose efforts are aimed at breaking the poverty cycle and improving livelihoods of rural populations with dignity. To achieve these aims WAFA sets itself the following Objectives to:
In order to Achieve these lofty goals for FOs, Cooperatives and Farmers, WAFA undertakes Innovative Capacity building activities, Entrepreneurship and Investment partnerships and engagement of professional expertise to assist execution of its Mandate as a Major Player in its Competitive Market Place. As relevant it sets up subsidiaries to enable her execute its Mandate and undertake its business.
WAFA’s work hovers around Themes which are reviewed periodically for continuing relevance to the WAFA Constituencies. The current WAFA Themes are:
WAFA’s membership consists of all kinds of farmers, including conventional and organic farmers, and therefore embraces neutrality, choice, peaceful co-existence, healthy debates and engagement, comprehensiveness and inclusiveness.
Commonwealth Farmers Organisation (CFO) coordinates at the global level Farmers Organisations in the Commonwealth which share common history, heritage, culture, systems, language, potentials and opportunities which they are proud of and which they harness to improve farming and agricultural productivity, profitability, sustainability and trade among themselves as commonwealth, thereby individually and collectively contribute their quota to local, National, regional and global food and nutrition security. CFO’s smallholder, medium and large farmers take a business-like and professional approach to farming, integrating sustainable agricultural intensification, climate smart farming and achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
Commonwealth Farmers Organisation (CFO) consists of National Farmers Organisations(NFOs) such as Coalition of Farmers Ghana (COFAG), Women Farmers Associations (WFAs), Young Farmers Associations (YFAs), Agricultural Commodity Producers Organisations(ACPOs) in Commonwealth Countries around the globe; Sub-regional Farmers Associations (SFAs) such as West Africa Farmers Alliance (CFO), Regional Farmers Organisations (RFOs) such as Africa Farmers Alliance (AFA) and their counterparts in other Regions of the world. All these farmers’ organisations, Associations and Alliances are subsumed into the Commonwealth Farmers Organisation (CFO) to harness their common heritage for their mutual economic, trade and investment benefit. They have shared Mandate, Vision, Mission, Objectives and Activities as expounded here.
The Commonwealth of 54 Countries across all continents is easily and potentially the biggest Geo- Socio-Politico-Economic, trade and Investment Bloc, if one considers all the factors put together. The members have a combined estimated population of 2.4 billion people market, almost a third of the world population of which 60% are youth under 29 years, and of which 1.26 billion live in India, 220 million live in Pakistan and 94% live in Asia and Africa combined. Nigeria is the most populous Commonwealth Country in Africa with 191 million people (World Bank, 2017). The total land size is 29,958,050 square km, about 20% of the world’s land area. The combined gross domestic product of Commonwealth Countries is estimated at US$ 10.4 trillion in 2017 and predicted to reach 13 trillion in 2020. Bilateral costs for trading partners in commonwealth countries are on average 19% less than between non-commonwealth countries. 7 out of 10 Top Countries of the Ibrahim Index of Africa Governance (2016) are Commonwealth; 7 out of 10 top Sub-Sahara African Countries highest in Gender equality are commonwealth; 10 of the 20 global emerging cities are in the commonwealth. 12 Commonwealth Countries are in the Top 30 of Countries with lowest ecological foot prints per capita according to WWF happy planet index. www.thecommonwealth.org. The Commonwealth also has a shared history, culture and language which are dominant in the world, which can easily be turned to the advantage of the Commonwealth as an economic, trade, investment and business bloc if harnessed. But Our Commonwealth is a Sleeping Giant because of neglected Legacy and Unharnessed potentials and Opportunities. The shared historical, cultural, economic and linguistic heritage which can easily be turned to our advantage as major economic, business, trade and investment bloc has not been harnessed. We have not conceived ourselves as a formidable economic, business, trade and investment bloc which the world has to contend with, in spite of the obvious economic, social and political advantages. The solution to waking up the Commonwealth from its slumber is to begin to envision the commonwealth as an economic, business, trade and investment bloc, take steps in the direction of operationalising the Commonwealth economic, business, trade and investment bloc by identifying and encouraging citizen-led and private sector-led entrepreneurial, economic, business, trade and investment initiatives and partnerships that promote the Commonwealth as an economic and trade bloc, with Commonwealth governments purely providing the enabling environment for this to thrive. The Commonwealth Farmers Organisation (CFO) is one of such initiatives and partnerships initiated in the global South-Commonwealth for all farmers of the commonwealth to do business, trade and invest among them and with the rest of the world.Read in PDF format