6 September 2016. Poverty rates have declined in African countries, a new report released by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA): Dubbed ‘African Agriculture Status Report (AASR): Progress towards an Agriculture Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa’, the report says that Ghana, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso have experienced a high decline in poverty rates.
The analysis serves as a curtain raiser for this week’s high-powered African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Nairobi, which is attracting heads of state and high-level officials from around the world. Economista say it could lock in hundreds of millions of dollars in new investments for Africa’s often struggling farmers.
“The last ten years have made a strong case for agriculture as the surest path to producing sustainable economic growth that is felt in all sectors of society and particularly among poor Africans. Many governments face significant budget constraints and far too many farming families continue to lack basic inputs, like improved seeds or fertilizers. But the evidence is clear. When we invest in our farmers and in all the things they need to succeed, good things happen across the economy” AGRA President Agnes Kalibata.
The report indicates that much of Africa has enjoyed sustained agriculture productivity growth. Since 2005, agriculture has also had its biggest impact in countries that moved quickly to embrace the African Union’s Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme or CAADP, which was created in 2003.
- A key component of CAADP was its call for African governments to allocate 10 per cent of national budgets to agriculture and to aim for six per cent annual growth in the sector.
- The AGRA report notes that even if they didn’t hit the 10 percent targets, early adopters of the CAADP goals have seen productivity on existing farmlands rise by 5.9 to 6.7 per cent per year.
- “This boost in turn helped spur a 4.3 percent average annual increase in overall GDP,” according to the report. “Those later to the game achieved anywhere from a 3 to 5.7 per cent growth in farm productivity and a 2.4 to 3.5 per cent increase in GDP. Meanwhile, countries that sat on the sidelines saw farm productivity rise by less than 3 per cent and GDP rise by only 2.2 per cent”.
- The trend is similar for declines in malnutrition, with countries that have embraced the CAADP process experiencing annual declines ranging from 2.4 to 5.7 per cent, while those who have not averages only a 1.2 per cent decline.
“Africa is no longer in the dark. It has done a lot towards agricultural transformation in the past decade. But there is a need to double the effort by 2030 for a meaningful agricultural transformation. Agricultural progress in the region would require political will, the right policies and technology transfer to improve productivity and reduce post-harvest losses. Linking small-scale farmers to markets and giving them access to finance are also key. Reforming the land tenure system is important in countries where arable land is inherited by siblings. When agricultural land is subdivided from generation to generation, it shrinks (and) thus becomes meaningless for agricultural production” David Ameyaw, AGRA’s head of monitoring and evaluation and a lead author of the report.
A decade of intense domestic attention to farmers and food production has generated “the most successful development effort” in African history, with countries that made the biggest investments rewarded with sizeable jumps in both farm productivity and overall economic performance.
Chapter 9 defines agricultural advisory services (AAS) and their connection with agricultural research systems to help African farmers continue to drive agricultural transformation.
- The chapter tracks the current status of agricultural research systems in SSA at national and regional levels and identifies key policy changes affecting the pace of the region’s agricultural transformation.
- It argues for locally driven approaches to achieve sustainable funding of agricultural research systems in the region.
- The chapter also discusses key trends and several innovative approaches that are helping bridge the supply and demand mismatch in AAS.
- It also discusses the pace of progress toward addressing the gender gap in agricultural research and extension.
5 KEY MESSAGES related to research
- A guided evolution or reform of agricultural research systems from a technology to system-oriented configuration for AR4D is called for, and this process can benefit from advocacy and intermediation actions by supranational agricultural research organizations.
“Inadequate and ineffective knowledge-sharing approaches on the supply side and lack of understanding of farmers’ needs and information pathways they currently use on the demand side contribute to a mismatch of information and skills necessary for successful adoption of technologies and access to inputs and markets”. (page 204)
“FARA commissioned an assessment of the requirements for efficient, effective and productive agricultural research systems in African countries. The assessment report (FARA, 2006) gave concrete recommendations for actions by a variety of stakeholders in the areas of governance and management, financial status and management, scientific capacity and management, and collaboration and linkages”. (page 205)
- The lack of sustained funding and misalignment of research priorities hinder long-term effectiveness and efficiency of AR4D and compromise transformative growth of the agricultural sector in SSA. Innovative ways to develop sustainable home-grown funding of AR4D in countries in the region exist, but the policy domain must be appropriate for agricultural research systems to leverage such funding avenues.
“Based on an analysis commissioned by the European Initiative for Agricultural Research for Development (EIARD), multi-donor trust funds managed by the World Bank, amounted to nearly 32 percent of the total donor investment in agricultural research and development (ARD) in SSA. As is traditional, the largest share of investment allocation was in favor of the CGIAR (65 percent), a significant proportion of which was forwarded to national research institutes on sub-contracts.” (page 211)
“Notwithstanding the apparent growth in AR4D pending over the last decade, the SSA AR4D intensity ratio (measure of total public AR4D spending as a percentage of agricultural GDP) has steadily declined from 0.59 percent in 2006 to 0.51 percent in 2011, far below the 1 percent recommended by the AU.” (page 212)
“Agricultural research can be a protracted enterprise (e.g., breeding programs can take decades for any returns to investments to be demonstrated) and therefore requires sustained funding and some patience. However, AR4D funding in many SSA countries has exhibited high volatility over the last decade chiefly due to high dependence on external donors and vacillating government priorities.”
“African partners, unable to fund their own AR4D, often sacrifice their strategic interests at the altar of donor aid. Indeed, the multi-donor trust funds managed by the World Bank, whilst addressing the issues of donor harmonization and long-term funding horizons, have equally been veritable instruments for micro-managing the programs and activities implemented by regional agencies like AUC, NEPAD, FARA, SROs and AFAAS”. (page 212)
“By its nature and design, the Competitive grant funding (CGF) can help countries move away from the NARS concept towards functional NAIS by fostering strategic linkages of various actors (e.g., NARIs, universities, NGOs, FBOs, and private sector players) to execute strategic, high quality, and demand-driven AR4D”. (page 214)
- Since agriculture is increasingly knowledge intensive and involves many different actors, advisory systems and staff need to play convening, brokering and coordinating roles and not just the role of passing on information.
“Most CGIAR centers continue to promote Innovation Platforms (IPs) in their technology outreach efforts, most recently under the emerging “Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT)” initiative. TAAT is a FARA-CGIAR partnership supported by AfDB for accelerated transformation of rural economies of African countries by bringing to scale proven technologies pegged to about 23 prioritized agricultural commodity value chains. About US$700 million is earmarked for the initiative to be implemented over a 5-year period.”
- More evaluations of advisory system approaches (such as ICTs and farmer-tofarmer extension) are needed to assess what types of approaches work well for particular types of agricultural technologies, for particular target groups (e.g., women), at what cost, and how approaches may be combined and improved.
“While a few approaches, such as farmer field schools have been analyzed in depth most others, particularly the newer ICT-based ones, have hardly been assessed at all. Whereas many evaluations ask whether an AAS approach works the more important questions are what types of AAS approaches work well for particular types of agricultural technologies, particular target groups (e.g., women), at what cost and how these approaches may be improved.” (page 2015)
“Agricultural Advisory Services appear to be most effective when researchers are effective in generating innovations that are demand driven and in economies where farmers have access to schooling, new technology, and extension.” (page 2015)
- Several capacity development frameworks have been proposed and many organizations working in SSA have embraced various approaches for agricultural capacity development, depending on their programmatic focus. Undertaking and documenting capacity development impact assessments will help highlight the key role of capacity development in AR4D, and evidence based advocacy for capacity development by multiple organizations.
“Agricultural research actors are not configured to collectively deliver innovative solutions to agricultural challenges” (page 204)
“Lack of capacity for demand articulation by end users and inexistent policies toencourage co-innovation, are possible reasons for the persistence of the “technology push” mode”. (page 206)
“The FAO, under the Tropical Agriculture Initiative (TAP), has recently advanced a framework that proposes a practical approach to capacity development for agricultural innovation aimed at harmonizing the diversity of existing strategiesthrough an AIS perspective.” (page 220)
“FARA is undertaking a comprehensive review of human and institutional capacity endowment to implement CAADP and S3A in over 20 countries across Africa. The results will outline, inter alia, the existing proportion of staff in different disciplines (e.g., plant breeding, agronomy, soil science, social science, and post-harvest technology) across value chains.” (page 222)