26 March 2013

Good and Bad News About Agriculture Investments in Africa

African countries are making promising agricultural gains, but the progress remains in the balance due to a $4.4 billion funding shortfall, warns a new report by the ONE Campaign. That is in addition to $11 billion in agriculture funding pledged by G8 nations that has yet to be disbursed.

The ONE report cites 2013 as an important year for agriculture in Africa because it is a time when international and domestic funding agreements come to an end.

“African leaders have the opportunity to deliver on their goals of lifting millions from extreme poverty and hunger and preventing chronic malnutrition by meeting these commitments,” write the report’s authors.

Edward Carr of the University of South Carolina was general supportive of the report, but noted that the problem of agriculture may be one that is about markets rather than production.

“There is no discussion on the massive rate of loss between farm gate and market in this region,” said Carr. “The report raises further questions. Is there really a production shortfall or a marketable crop shortfall?”

The heads of state for the countries of Malawi, Senegal, Cape Verde and Sierra Leone have been invited for a two-day visit to the White House at the end of this week. The countries are among the 6 highest performing African countries in the ONE report and have strong ties to US agriculture initiatives such as Feed the Future and the Millennium Challange Corporation (MCC). ONE believes that the Obama administration may add Malawi and Senegal to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, a move that further commits US support for agriculture development in the two countries.

The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) established by African leaders in Maputo in July 2003 set forward the goal of countries allocating 10% of their national budgets to agriculture. Since then, 24 countries signed the agreement and have developed national agriculture plans. The ONE report assessed 19 of the signatory countries and found that only 4 have met the 10% spending target.