May 8, 2018 | Food security

Agriculture has been described as the backbone of the economy in many countries across the globe.  For most countries, national independence is largely influenced by agricultural development as it enables the population to escape the scourge of food insecurity which undermines sovereignty and fosters sedition; it is a driver of growth whose leverage is now acknowledged by economists and politicians. The sector offers the greatest potential for poverty and inequality reduction as it provides sources of productivity from which the most disadvantaged people working in the sector should benefit.

The livelihoods of millions of African producers are constantly threatened by a broad range of risks from climate and other natural hazards to price volatility and unpredictable markets and policies. These risk factors are major impediments to food security and investment and hence productivity in agriculture.

Maputo declaration

In Maputo, Mozambique, in 2003, the African Union (AU) Summit made the first declaration endorsing the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) as an integral part of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD); a framework for contributing to the reduction of food insecurity and poverty in Africa. The Maputo Declaration on Food and Agriculture directed all African Union member countries to increase investment in the agriculture sector to at least 10 per cent of the respective national budget by 2008. To gauge progress towards this target, the AU and NEPAD agreed to take on agriculture expenditure as a good variable to be monitored. The 2007 AU/NEPAD survey found that 50 per cent of the countries spent less than 5 per cent of their national expenditure on agriculture development, reflecting a decrease from 57 per cent in 2003.

Over a decade later only a few countries have met these goals.  Worse yet, many of the same challenges that existed then remain today. Farmer yields have been stagnant for decades. Without the Maputo Declaration giving any priority through policies on how countries would prioritize their public expenditure on agriculture, there was low domestication and internalization of the 2003 Maputo Declaration in most countries causing the inadequate high-level political will to inspire the country to prioritize agriculture in the national budgets. For example, research clearly points to agricultural research and development as a good return on investment yet most African countries commit a small percentage of their national budget to this course. 

Inadequacies in the agricultural sector policy strategies and lack of capacity in the ministries of Agriculture to provide compelling evidence to show that the agriculture sector can make a significant contribution to national economic targets also sabotaged the programme. In addition, Countries receiving donor funding often failed to meet the conditions and the disbursements were lower than anticipated. 

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