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Agriculture Sector Strategy 2010-2014
January 2010

Acknowledgements: FANRPAN acknowledges African Development Bank Group as the source of this document


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Africa is rich in natural and human resources. More than 900 million people live in Africa. Agriculture plays a vital role. An estimated seventy percent of the population depends on agriculture for full-time employment and many others rely on agriculture for part of their household income. Two hundred million Africans live with food insecurity. Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has averaged close to 3 percent over the past 25 years. However, per capita growth for the SSA pollution dependent on agriculture has been less than 1 percent. Agricultural production has been increasing, at an average rate of 3.2 percent for the Middle East and North Africa, but most of the growth is related to increasing the land area under exploitation rather than to increases in productivity. At current rates, it is estimated that Africa will be able to feed less than half its population by 2015. Agricultural GDP per farmer has over the last two decades risen by 2% per annum in Asia, nearly 3% in Latin America but less than 1% in Africa. Farmers have been working harder, more people have taken up farming, but productivity has not increased.

In the early 2000s, when the international community agreed to implement the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agriculture again became an important issue. The link between the goals of reducing extreme poverty and hunger and ensuring environmental sustainability and the potential of agriculture as an engine of growth in Africa were clear. When food prices rose dramatically in 2007/08, and an economic recession hit, and as the effects climate change raised new spectres of drought and famine in Africa, the ability of the world and of Africa in particular, to feed its population in the medium and long term became a pressing question.

In 2003, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and its Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), were launched to accelerate agricultural growth in the region. Also in 2003, African governments signed the Maputo Declaration committing to a minimum allocation of 10% of their national annual budgets to agriculture. Recent political fora confirmed the urgent need to secure and increase basic food staples. These are the Sirte Conference on Water for Agriculture and Energy (December 2008), the FAO Summit of 2008, and the AU Summit (July 2009) on Investing in Agriculture for Economic Growth and Food Security. As an expression of their strong commitment to support agriculture in Africa, in July 2009, the G8 pledged to provide US$ 20 billion over the next three years to increase food production on the continent. The L’Aquila Declaration further underscores the need for effective use of investments in the agriculture sector.

Since 2008, the operations at the Bank’s Agriculture and Agro-industry Department (OSAN) have been guided by the Bank’s Medium Term Strategy (MTS), 2008 - 2012. Before then, the thrust and orientation of its operations were guided by the Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) Sector Bank Group policy of 2000. Although not necessarily being selective, the 2000 ARD Policy had multiple pillars and envisaged core assistance programs for agriculture and rural development, which served the intended development purpose at the time. This new Policy provided a broad framework of interventions in Regional Member Countries (RMCs), addressing constraints endogenous to agriculture, which could, to a large extent, be dealt with within the confines of the sector.

The MTS identifies four specific areas of priorities for the Bank: infrastructure, governance, private sector and higher education. The Bank’s investments in these core areas seek to contribute to the goal of poverty reduction, regional integration, human development and agriculture. The Bank’s level of support to agriculture needed to be reassessed based on a retrospective evaluation of its past and current operations in the sector.

A series of evaluation exercises on the operations of the Bank in the sector identified areas of weakness that need to be addressed to ensure better results and increased impact. The most recent of these is the AfDB/IFAD Joint Evaluation Report on agriculture policies and operations in Africa, which, among others, examined the approach taken in implementing the 2000 Policy on Agriculture and Rural Development. The evaluation concluded that the Bank should remain engaged in the sector, but with a clear, selective focus, and innovative approaches aligned with the Bank’s areas of comparative advantage and strategic goals. The report also notes the need for the Bank to work in a sharper and smarter way; moving away from multi-component projects. Consequently, purposeful partnerships based on complementarity, comparative advantage and specialization will be important in addressing the broad array of rural needs. Success will also hinge on whether greater attention is paid to the specifics of the country context.

This Strategy is a Bank-specific response to the past, current and emerging issues in African agricultural development, devised to guide its future assistance to RMCs in the sector. It draws heavily from the analytical works in the 2008 World Development Report.

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