Coordination is the key to agricultural transformation

AGRF 2020

“Inter-ministerial coordination is the key to ensure that the agricultural sector is able to thrive whilst benefitting from the political goodwill of the other ministries.”

As highlighted by Dr. James Nyoro, the Deputy Governor of Kiambu, Kenya during a session at the 2018 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) on how African governments can drive successful transformation agendas.

With the import bill in Sub-Saharan Africa exceeding $35 billion, agriculture is not only a way of life but a business necessity, where the money invested should be able to bring about a profit. This can only be achieved through co-ordination from all key stakeholders.

Currently, most African governments have not met their target of setting aside 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture.

“Instead of us witnessing a blame game between private sector and the government, we need to focus on visionary leadership, “added Dr. Nyoro

As the call for coordination continued, there are lessons that can be learned from countries which are making tremendous strides in achieving agricultural transformation.

Back in 2015, Liberia was at the limelight as a failed nation following the double shock of the Ebola outbreak and the depleted healthcare system.

Something had to be done, to revive the economy.

Key solutions included the building of foundational strategies for agricultural transformation.

“$400 million were invested in agriculture, but there was little to show for what the money had achieved whereas we were importing 90 percent of our food,” said Ms. Valérie Vencatachellum, Deputy Country Head, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.

A two-year action plan was therefore implemented just before the end of the ruling time of the former Libera President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

“We started off first by identifying the stakeholders who could support the agricultural program”, said Ms. Vencatachellum.

“Further, we created strong links with the president’s office and formed a presidential task force that would meet on a regular basis, to ensure that all ministries gave an update of actions that they were undertaking and their goals,” she added.

Another country to learn from is Rwanda, where coordination and accountability are the heart of agricultural transformation was realised.

Rwanda had the highest score in the African Agricultural Transformation Scorecard (AATS) which was unveiled during the Biennial Review (BR) at the African Union (AU) Summit in Addis this year.

To become the leader, Rwanda formed a public investment committee to ensure that there was no duplication of targets and that amenities such as water, electricity and roads were available before any agricultural project was undertaken.

“During the budgeting proposal, when other ministries are pitching, the ministry of agriculture is also present so as to pitch in the need for a road, water, electricity or any other amenity that needs to be present for it to be able to carry out a project,” said Amb. George William Kayonga, CEO, National Agricultural Export Board, Republic of Rwanda.

“Also, rigorous assessments and analysis of all agricultural projects are carried out and key stakeholders question each particular project to ensure that the targets set in each quarter are achieved and completed,” continued Kayonga

The availability of credible institutions that ensure that there is accountability in delivery of projects is also another thing to learn from Rwanda.

The National Institute of Statistics is one of those institutions. This year, the institution measured the accomplishments of each ministry against the targets set and produced a report for the parliament to hold accountable institutions that failed to deliver and had cases of misappropriation of resources allocated to them.

On accountability, the AU also has been at the forefront of ensuring that African countries are on track towards achieving vision 2063.

“At the continental level, it is the Heads of State that have set the vision of 2063 to dictate where they want the continent to be by then and what needs to be done to translate this vison into operational strategies”, said Mr. Ernest Ruzindaza, CAADP Team Leader and Senior Advisor, African Union Commission.

The AU develops 10-year operational plans for the agricultural sector. The journey can be traced back to the Maputo Declaration where Heads of States agreed to set aside 10 percent of GDP to agriculture.

“After 10 years we realised that agriculture alone cannot stand by itself. We had to incorporate Intra-Africa trade, enhancing climate resilience, ending hunger, enhancing agricultural finance and ensuring mutual accountability. This was acknowledged in the Malabo Declaration,” added Mr. Ruzindaza.

Ernest added that to achieve agricultural transformation, coordination structures need to be established from the Heads of State, government, ministries, donors, sector working groups and citizens.

This he added can be achieved through retreats from the leadership level to holding dialogues at grassroots where citizens can ask questions on issues of governance.