Horticulture offers significant potential for economic growth, including increases in rural incomes and employment opportunities, across the 21 Member States of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). Given this potential, the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA), a Specialized Agency of COMESA mandated by heads of State and Government to integrate smallholder farmers into domestic, regional, and international markets; has prioritized building the capacity of the horticulture sub-sector across the COMESA region in its 2021-2031 Strategic Plan. ACTESA has been mandated with coordinating the regional horticultural markets and increasing access to innovative agricultural credit systems as the demand for horticultural products grows rapidly with urbanization and increased income. The potential of horticulture has also been recognized by the East African Community (EAC) Member States, as reflected in the EAC’s Fruit and Vegetable Strategy 2021-2031.
A COMESA-EAC Horticulture Accelerator (CEHA) was created in 2022 by public and private sector partners to better coordinate policy, value chain development programs, financing, and Research and Development (R&D). The aim is to speed up growth of the Fruit and Vegetable (F&V) sub-sector of the COMESA and EAC Regions. The vision of CEHA is that by 2031, climate-smart horticulture value chains will become a significant driver of income growth, inclusive job creation, and improved nutrition throughout Eastern and Southern Africa. CEHA would initially focus on three priority anchor value chains (VCs), namely avocado, onion and Irish potatoes as these specific value chains have agronomic, logistical, and regulatory challenges and opportunities that are common to many other F&V crops. Other value chains, such as tomato and cabbage may be added in the near future at the direction of the CEHA Board and based on National Chapters Platform stakeholder priorities.
CEHA has a bottom-up structure, where the strategic priorities identified by national-level stakeholders drive the priorities at a regional level. It consists of a CEHA Board, National Chapters National/Platforms as well as a Secretariat managed by ACTESA. An annual General Assembly, comprised of a much broader set of stakeholders from governments, development agencies, and the private sector would give COMESA and EAC Member States the opportunity to endorse the CEHA Board recommendations and any other engagement relevant for increased intra-regional horticultural trade.
In this regard, ACTESA will be key in moving the CEHA forward through the following:
- Coordinating investments that are primarily private sector-led, public sector-enabled, and donor-catalyzed into production and processing clusters in support of the EAC and COMESA horticulture strategies;
- Facilitating policy and standards improvement to stimulate trade and market access across the region for multiple regional fruit and vegetable value chains; and
- Facilitating access to both working capital and capex finance as well as technical assistance to processors, farmers, and other agribusinesses across the value chain to accelerate growth.
Therefore, AGRA’s partnership with COMESA and EAC, through ACTESA, with support from the United Kingdom’ Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) intends to strengthen this CEHA Secretariat and establish three functional National Platforms. This will enhance the horticulture sub-sector development and further growth by strengthening ACTESA’s mandate and delivery of activities in region. The national platforms will provide voice and space for national stakeholders to scale sustainable impact and competitiveness in the horticulture sub-sector.
With support from AGRA and its partners, ACTESA is seeking a CEHA Regional Coordinator (CEHA RC) to lead the CEHA Secretariat (the “Secretariat”). The CEHA RC will be based in Lusaka. The CEHA RC will report to the CEHA Board and ACTESA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Working in collaboration with governments in the COMESA and EAC region, researchers, development partners, the private sector, and civil society, ACTESA will be focused on implementing the directives of the CEHA Board. The position will be for an initial term of one year, with the possibility of extension.
2. CEHA Regional Coordinator Position and Scope
The Regional Coordinator will lead the CEHA Secretariat, providing strategic leadership to the direction CEHA will take, as well as actively engaging with the private sector and governments on accelerating the growth of the horticulture sub-sector. The CEHA RC will also provide support for the CEHA Secretariat to be established and ensure its fit-for-purpose, properly staffed, and funded throughout the first year. S/he shall be responsible for supporting the ACTESA and CEHA Board of Directors, working with each of technical committees to facilitate agenda setting, the establishment of National Platforms, and arranging general assembly meetings to develop a community of practice that is engaging and active. As part of outreach efforts, the RC will organize other conferences and events as needed. S/he shall also assist in the recruitment and hiring of technical consultants, as needed, to carry out the initiatives recommended by the CEHA Executive Board.
Under the direct guidance of the ACTESA CEO, the RC shall play a key role in supporting, coordinating, and driving all activities of the CEHA Secretariat, including the curation of information gathered through technical committees and its dissemination to stakeholders for the purposes of convening actors, developing partnerships, scaling models, and mobilizing resources.
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