Analysis: Is African Union’s Agriculture Policy Working?

Analysis: Is African Union’s Agriculture Policy Working?

By Sevelin Katoto | From eurasiareview

Agriculture is an economic sector that most African people and people around the world depend on for their livelihoods. However, its importance is not prioritized by African nations. Theodore Schultz, in his speech for the 1979 Nobel Prize in Economics, began by accepting that

“Most of the people in the world are poor, so if we knew the economics of being poor we would know much of the economics that really matters. Most of the world’s poor people earn their living from agriculture, so if we knew the economics of agriculture we would know much of the economics of being poor”. (Shultz 1979).

Recognizing the importance of agriculture to the economies of its member states and the many challenges faced in reducing poverty and enhancing food security on the continent, the African Union (AU), together with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), created an agricultural initiative called the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) in 2003.

The main goal of CAADP is to help African countries reach a higher path of economic growth through agriculture-led development that eliminates hunger, reduces poverty and food insecurity and enables the expansion of exports (NEPAD 2005a). Around the same time, AU and NEPAD developed another continental initiative, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), to address governance issues. The implementation of both of these initiatives at the national level has been underway for several years now, although to varying degrees in different countries.

The failure of previous development interventions on the continent motivated Africa to seek this new strategy. The emphasis on African ownership and leadership distinguishes NEPAD and CAADP from past African development initiatives. In its recently published guide to implementation, NEPAD (2008) suggests that the creation of CAADP clearly demonstrates Africa’s stepping up to take full responsibility for its own development agenda.

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