Successes in African Agriculture

By Alex Tung

(Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

A recent report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Successes in African Agriculture, identifies processes, practices, and policies for accelerated agricultural growth.

From the farming of maize, dairy production and horticulture in East Africa to cotton growing in West Africa, the report explores projects that have been both significant in scale and sustained over time.

Completed in collaboration with the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD),  these cases and consultations with agricultural specialists and policy-makers from across Sub-Saharan Africa suggest two key determinants of positive agricultural performance: one, sustaining and improving agricultural research to provide more productive and sustainable technologies to farmers; and two, market incentives for farmers and agribusinesses including stable exchange rates and favorable macroeconomic policies.

“This is a book about a number of real successful developments in African agriculture, things that have been overlooked.” says Dr. Peter Hazell, co-author of the report.   “There were very important lessons about why these things happened and why they were able to be sustained, which are very important as we look to the future as African agriculture is back on the agenda.”

The report suggests that it is possible to create conditions for African agriculture to flourish.  Government commitment to change at the institutional level, sustained investments from donors and sound collaboration between public and private sectors can lay the right foundation for future successes in African agriculture.

Although the report aims to provide a set of guidelines for the donor community to successfully channel resources toward better agricultural development, Dr Hazell says that it brings a “tough message” that “not many donors and Ministers of Finance want to hear.”

“It’s going to take time… we need to plan with a 10-15 year time horizon. The real successes have happened when governments and donors have taken a long term view, they’ve invested, sustained that investment overtime at adequate levels.”

To learn more about investing in agricultural development, private-public partnerships and improving market incentives, see Re-Directing Ag Funding to Small-Scale Farmers for Improved Food SecurityFANRPAN: Working to connect farmers, researchers, and policy makers in Africa and In Eastern and Southern Africa, Improving Trade and Identifying Investment Opportunities.

Alex Tung is a research intern with Nourishing the Planet.

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