What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

One small change of words – a giant leap in effectiveness!, World Agroforestry Centre

Policy: Twenty tips for interpreting scientific claims, Nature

Enabling African Farmers to Feed the World, Farming First

Roundtable on Sustainable African Agriculture and CAADP 2014 review, PAEPARD

Agricultural Input Subsidies. The Recent Malawi Experience, Ephraim Chirwa and Andrew Dorward

African Farmers Reap Gains Of Biotech Cotton, CoastWeek

Humans are becoming more carnivorous, Nature

Seeds of hope emerge across the world’s drylands, World Agroforestry Centre

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee to examine Food Security, UK Parliament

For sustainable growth, count on agriculture, Thomson Reuters Foundation [Read more…]

CAADP turns 10

caadp-logoThe Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP) has its 10th anniversary this month. Here we discuss the development of CAADP and its achievements so far.

Food insecurity is a substantial barrier to Africa’s development and in acknowledgement of this African heads of state at the African Union’s second Ordinary Assembly held in Maputo, Mozambique in 2003 ratified a new initiative, CAADP. The program is part of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and has the aim to transform agricultural institutions and policy.

The explicit goal of CAADP is to “eliminate hunger and reduce poverty through agriculture”. To do so African governments agreed to the setting of two targets:

  • To achieve 6% annual growth in agricultural productivity by 2015
  • To increase the allocation of national budgets directed to the agricultural sector by at least 10%

The program also has four objectives or pillars:

Pillar 1 – Extending the area under sustainable land and water management

Pillar 2 – Improving rural infrastructure and trade-related capacities for market access

Pillar 3 – Increasing food supply and reducing hunger

Pillar 4 – Agricultural research, technology dissemination and adoption

At the national level, countries were tasked with:

  1. Performing a stock-taking exercise of the current agricultural sector;
  2. Holding roundtable discussions to discuss challenges and solutions;
  3. Signing a CAADP Compact, “an agreement of consensually identified priorities and a roadmap to implement the country’s strategy for agricultural development” and;
  4. Preparing and implementing a country investment plan.

The process allows for countries to set their own priorities and pathways within the CAADP pillars. Africa’s Regional Economic Communities are also tasked with developing a Compact and investment plan for the region. These and the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency and various meetings allow for knowledge sharing across the whole continent.

Progress to date

As of June 2012, 40 countries have been involved, 30 have signed Compacts, 23 have finalised investment plans and some 9 to 15 countries have received significant funding. With regards to the two targets progress has been less substantial. As of 2011, only 10 countries have exceeded the 6% agricultural production growth target and only 8 have exceeded the 10% national budget allocation to agriculture. But this is not to say that progress hasn’t been made where targets have not yet been reached. [Read more…]

Food security and agriculture information at our fingertips

ID-100125038This week we’ve been thinking about information. Specifically the type of information on agriculture and rural development that is available, how useful it is and to who. A lot of data and statistics went into the writing of One Billion Hungry and some was hard to find, out of date or non-existent. Indeed statistics, such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) estimate of the number of chronically hungry people in the world, are often challenged because there are so few rigorous and comparable data sets available on food security and agriculture.

Yet policymakers often base investments in international development around evidence and farmers too must have access to clear and credible information in order to be competitive in the market. Ensuring information is timely, relevant and reliable, therefore is an important challenge. A recent paper by researchers at Tulane University investigated the impact of Food and Nutrition Security Information (FNSI) and its shortcomings concluding that while more conventional forms of data must be expanded in coverage, greater types and sources of data that come with increased connectivity must also be utilised.

Greater access to information can also help solve global challenges. As discussed in Chapter 1, we face the threat of repeated food price spikes, of which we have seen three since 2007. In 2011, the G20, in response to increased food price volatility, established the Agricultural Market Information System, with the idea that if information on the production, trade, use and storage of four globally important crops, wheat, rice, maize and soybean, is more transparent then policy action in response to market uncertainty can be coordinated and potentially dangerous and inaccurate speculation can be avoided. The coordination of policies and development of common strategies is undertaken by the Rapid Response Forum, whose second meeting is to take place on 20th February 2013. [Read more…]