To revitalize African agriculture, AGRA pleads for the return of the state

AGRF 2020

It is a real guide for governments produced by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. Noting the insufficient productivity of the sector, and pointing to inappropriate liberalization in the 1980s, this study recommends the return of states to agricultural policies.

According to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who signs the report’s introduction, it is a real “textbook” for governments that Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra – Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa ) published on September 5th.

Inadequate liberalization

Launched in 2006 by the Rockefeller and Bill & Melinda Gates foundations , Agra’s goal is to help small farmers increase their farm productivity and incomes.

In its report , the Alliance notes that, despite a better one, agricultural productivity and the improvement of the lot of African farmers – and in particular, that of small farmers who provide 80% of the agricultural product – are progressing too slowly with regard to population growth of the continent. The liberalization of the 1980s did not yield convincing results, as it was unsuited to the specificities of agriculture.

This study highlights that faster progress requires governments to be at the heart of the transformation of their agriculture. The task is immense, because they need to develop a long-term strategy and act simultaneously in a multitude of areas to implement it: protection of property rights, road construction, rural electrification, seed research and cultivation methods (a budget of 1% of gross domestic product is recommended), control of fertilizers and pesticides, construction of storage facilities, strengthening of farmers’ organizations, irrigation, market regulation, land redistribution, mechanization aids , adapted bank financing, attractive investment code for foreign investment, simple and protective taxation, connection of small producers with value chains and processing.

To achieve this, there is no alternative but to put more money into agriculture. In Africa, the agricultural sector accounts for 61 per cent of employment and 25 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), but less than 10 per cent of the State’s budget expenditure goes to it. Between 1980 and 2015, only four countries exceeded the 10% level: Malawi, Ethiopia, Niger and Burkina Faso.

The Ethiopian example

To make the leaders want to tackle this gigantic project, the report analyzes the success of Ethiopia . Under the leadership of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian government has increased spending on agriculture to 10% of the budget, which has helped build roads and expand services, education and health in rural areas to develop seeds adapted to Ethiopian conditions.

In 2010, Ethiopia had one agricultural extension technician for 476 farmers when the ratio in Tanzania was one in 2,500. In 2017, it had 15,000 agricultural training centers and 72,000 extension technicians. In 2004, 46% of its grain producers used fertilizers; in 2013, this proportion was increased to 76%. The cultivated area increased by 28% in the same period of time.

These efforts paid off. Grain production, which was 119 million quintals in 2004, increased to 266 million in 2015, an increase of more than 120%. Ethiopia is certainly not Ukraine or the great American plains, but it shows the paths that the political will must take to succeed the “green revolution” that was called for Koffi Anna, the former Secretary General of the United States. United Nations which has just died.


Originally published on Jeuneafrique