1. Africa: Investment in agriculture needed for poverty reduction (CAADP, AllAfrica, Reuters, Daily Monitor, ActionAid)
Date Posted: June 14th, 2010
Mr. Kakye jumps into a mini-bus and makes the five hour trip to Kampala, the capital of Uganda. He is a subsistence farmer with two acres of maize. But he is not making the trip to sell his maize.
Instead, he sells old clothes and Chinese-made goods from a rusty stand in the bustling Nakawa Taxi Park Market. Mr. Kakye says he has no choice but to take on a second job. He earns 150,000 shillings (around 65 American dollars) every month from selling milk. But this is not enough to sustain his family of eight.
He says, “We would like to engage in agriculture because we have the energy. But the prices of farm inputs are too high.” He complains that extension services are inadequate for poor farmers, saying, “I am told the government delivered some farm inputs but I have not seen them.”
In 2003, 18 African governments signed the Maputo Declaration. They agreed to allocate 10% of their national budgets to agriculture. Yet, according to CAADP (the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme), only 10 of the 18 countries have met this mark.
In recent years, Uganda has allocated between five and seven percent of its national budget to agriculture. In April, President Museveni of Uganda renewed his promise to increase this to 10%.
Last month, UN agencies that support small-scale farmers, including the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), called on the other eight countries to make good on their 2003 promise.
At the World Economic Forum meeting in Africa, Kanayo Nwanze, President of IFAD, said, “The rural poor need to receive help because they are the ones that produce the food. We need to help them become profitable.”
Yet international donor aid for agriculture has stalled. This has slowed agricultural development, along with factors such as inadequate infrastructure and poor access to markets.
Governments currently allocate an average of five percent of national budgets to agriculture. Yet there is clear evidence that increasing agricultural expenditures works. Most of the governments which devote more than 10% of their budgets to agriculture have succeeded in decreasing hunger.
Eight further countries are expected to sign the Maputo Declaration by the end of June 2010.