Feature written by Dr. Babatunde Omilola, ReSAKSS-Africa Wide Coordinator
Since our last e-Newsletter, there has been growing momentum towards putting agriculture firmly on the agenda of governments and donors alike. The G8 Summit held in Italy recognized the importance of agriculture for development and the critical need to increase financial and technical support in the context of emerging challenges such as the current global economic crisis (see IFPRI discussion paper highlighted below). Leaders at the summit issued an official statement on global food security and made a commitment to mobilize $20 billion to tackle global food insecurity in the next 3 years. This statement comes on the heels of the annual African Union Heads of State Summit under the theme of “Investing in Agriculture for Economic Growth and Food Security”. At the national level, several African governments are close to holding their Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) Roundtables where they will sign their CAADP country compacts and officially commit themselves to promoting agricultural development in their countries. Togo, as detailed in this issue’s newsletter will become the first West African country to sign the CAADP country compact.
The increasing commitment to agriculture and food security in developing countries has come at a critical moment. In July, the FAO announced that the number of hungry people has reached the unprecedented level of 1.02 billion people worldwide. At the same time, the UN released its annual assessment of progress towards the Millennium Development Goals indicating that poverty reduction, especially in Africa, has been seriously set back by high rates of population growth coupled with the recent economic crisis. To counteract increasing food insecurity, hunger and poverty in this context, governments and donors will not only need to increase their financial commitments to agriculture in general terms, but also need to carefully select policy, growth and investment options that will reduce poverty and catalyze overall economic growth. Two new ReSAKSS publications featured in this month’s issue offer policy advice in this area. An issue brief on growth options in Malawi and a working paper and an issue brief on regional trade and the removal of intra-trade barriers in East Africa provide policy recommendations to reduce poverty and increase rural welfare. In our efforts to ensure that agriculture and food security remain on the global agenda into the future as well as to keep policymakers and the development community regularly informed of evidenced-based policy options, ReSAKSS will host a discussion group at the 27th International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE) conference in Beijing in August 2009 on Informing African Agricultural Development, Planning and Policy.
For more information, please visit the ReSAKSS website