Held over 5 days from the 1st September in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the African Union’s annual Africa Green Revolution Forum this year was centred on the AU designated ‘Year of Agriculture and Food Security’ and the political will needed to achieve sustainable food and nutritional security across the continent.
In conjunction with the 2014 Year of Agriculture and Food Security, a report from the AU Commission, presented as a feature issue of the AU ECHO newsletter, highlights stories and experiences from member states of the African Union and from regional institutions as they have worked to implement the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) over the last 10 years. For example in Rwanda the joint Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Assessment (CFSVA) and National Nutrition Survey of 2012 showed that the proportion of households failing to meet minimum food requirements declined from 35% to 21%, in part due to increased agricultural production and productivity under CAADP I. According to the 2010/11 Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey, poverty incidence reduced from 59% in 2006 to 45% in 2011, and the 2012 Rwanda Economic Update of the World Bank linked almost half of this reduction to developments in agriculture such as production increases and increased commercialisation.
In June 2014 at the African Union summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, African leaders voiced their commitment to prioritising agriculture in national development plans, to ending hunger and to cutting poverty in half by 2025. The declaration also re-affirmed intentions to devote 10% of their national budgets to agricultural development and to achieve 6% annual growth in agricultural GDP as well as double agricultural productivity, halve post-harvest losses and reduce stunting to 10%. The recent forum (AGRF) included discussions between the public and private sectors to turn these commitments into reality and to accelerate agricultural transformation in Africa.
Since 2003 and the Maputo Declaration on CAADP, annual agricultural GDP growth has averaged nearly 4% in Africa, much higher than rates of growth in the decades before but still falling short of commitments. Progress on CAADP is difficult to discern, even within the AU’s report figures differ, but according to ONE, 43 counties have signed up to CAADP, 38 have signed a CAADP compact and 28 have developed national agriculture and food security investment plans. Only 8 countries have consistently attained the 10% of public expenditure to agriculture target, however, although there has been a significant rise in public agricultural spending overall – on average rising by over 7% each year across Africa since 2003, almost double public agricultural expenditures since the launch of CAADP. At the regional level, 4 out of 8 Regional Economic Communities (RECs) have signed regional CAADP compacts and 3 have developed full investment plans.
The report points to some of the challenges facing CAADP over the next 10 years, one of the biggest obstacles cited is a lack of political will and an unpredictable policy climate, which contributes to poor policy coordination, disorganised markets and low domestic and foreign investment in agriculture. The CAADP process is also quoted by the East Africa Farmers Federation as being a complex one, requiring all stakeholders to come together to plan, strategize and hold each other accountable. To date it has largely been state actors able to access the resources needed to participate, and greater effort needs to be made, if CAADP is to be successful, to ensure farmers are included in the CAADP agenda.
As African countries move forward with CAADP implementation and progress towards achieving Malabo Declaration pledges, a longer term plan, the African Union Agenda 2063: “A Shared Strategic Framework for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development” is being deliberated. Although CAADP Progress under CAADP in reducing malnutrition and poverty has been moderate – between 2003 and 2010 rates of undernourishment have fallen from 26.7% to 24.3% and the population living below the $1.25 a day poverty line fell from 55.7% to 48.5% – but this is progress and many are positive on the contribution CAADP can play in achieving poverty and hunger reductions by 2063.
CAADP has brought together many stakeholders to drive political change and to take practical steps towards transforming the agricultural sector. Since its initiation and now in its second phase, CAADP provides a more robust results-based framework that has great potential in helping to create a food secure Africa. We look forward to hearing more of the responses to the AGRF, which A4I attended, and now look to the Food Commemoration of the 5th Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security on 1st and 2nd October 2014.