For the first time in 25 years, the World Bank has made agriculture the subject of its annual World Development Report. Just in time to respond to an internal audit has found the Bank's commitment to agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa sorely lacking. Go figure!
This Report addresses three main
- What can agriculture do for development? Agriculture has served as a basis for growth and reduced poverty in many countries, but more countries could benefit if governments and donors were to reverse years of policy neglect and remedy their underinvestment and misinvestment in agriculture.
- What are effective instruments in using agriculture for development? Top priorities are to increase the assets of poor households, make smallholders—and agriculture in general—more productive, and create opportunities in the rural nonfarm economy that the rural poor can seize.
- How can agriculture-for-development agendas best be implemented? By designing policies and decision processes most suited to each country’s economic and social conditions, by mobilizing political support, and by improving the governance of agriculture.
Interesting report. Lots to think about and discuss. What I found most interesting was the Bank's admission (sort of) that the structural adjustment policies of the last quarter century weren't all that great for agricultural development:
The agriculture-for-development agenda presents two challenges for implementation. One is managing the political economy of agricultural policies to overcome policy biases, underinvestment, and misinvestment. The other is strengthening governance for the implementation of agricultural policies, particularly in the agriculture- based and transforming countries for which governance gets low scores (figure 12).
Insufficient attention to these political economy and governance challenges was a major reason several key recommendations of the 1982 World Development Report on agriculture were not fully implemented, particularly those for trade liberalization, increased investments in infrastructure and R&D in Africa, and better delivery of health and education services to rural populations.