There are well-founded fears that it is unrealistic to expect Africa to achieve the Millennium Development Goal 1 (MDG1) to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and to halve the proportion of people who suffer hunger by 2015. Recent efforts of African governments to meet the MDG1 have resulted in a number of initiatives including the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) framework that calls for 6% agricultural growth rates, the Maputo Declaration calling for 10% of total public spending to be on agriculture, and the 2006 Abuja Declaration calling for an increase in fertilizer use from 8 – 50 kg/ha by 2015. CAADP estimates that an average investment of US$18 billion/year will be required to trigger sufficient agricultural growth rate to meet MDG1. Meanwhile, budgetary allocation to agriculture in many African nations is low and an analysis of trends in foreign development assistance to Africa over a 10-year period (1995-2004) showed that the annual commitment to agriculture out of the total assistance of US$230 billion declined from 11% in 1995 to 6% in 2004. This decline could be traced to the frustration of donors and African governments alike at the failure of agriculture to achieve sufficient progress towards food security and poverty reduction. Nevertheless, there is evidence from the past that where projects have been successful, governments provided political leadership and financial support; organized farmers groups actively participated in decision-making; and that close public-private-partnership existed. Based on the lessons learned from previous projects and the subsequent more favorable rules of engagement of donors with beneficiaries, the paper concludes that the challenges and responsibility for getting agriculture back to the front-burner of the development agenda is largely that of African governments.


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