By Nilmini Rajapakse
Agriculture employs over two-thirds of the population in Africa. With arable land covering over 60 percent of the continent, the potential is immense. At present, the sector is only 16.5 percent of GDP, while Africa spends 35 billion dollars annually on food imports, according to the World Bank. The Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) aims to improve food security, nutrition and incomes in Africa’s largely farming-based economies. This is to address the pressing need to transform agriculture in Africa into a wealth-creating livelihood.
Agriculture is dominated by smallholder farmers, mostly residing in rural areas, who rely on subsistence farming for a living. Rapid population growth and expanding urbanization are increasing demand for food and intensifying land degradation and pest outbreaks. This is occurring against the backdrop of limited water resources and climate change. CAADP’s primary targets are to achieve 6% agricultural growth and raise agricultural productivity by increasing the share of public investment in agriculture to 10% of total national public investment. It aims to achieve this through national agriculture investment plans, regular reviews, technology networks, and partnerships in agribusiness at the country-level.
CAADP is supported by the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS), led by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in collaboration with AKADEMIYA2063. IWMI’s Deputy Country Representative for South Africa Greenwell Matchaya explained that the support includes sharing important data, facilitating dialogue, keeping an eye on progress, and ensuring accountability.
CAADP’s Biennial Review (BR) process is an important aspect of accountability. Panduleni Elago, Senior CAADP Advisor, Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy, and Sustainable Environment of the African Union Commission, noted that the BR process tracks performance commitment by mapping each country’s agricultural sector progress against agreed targets.
The third BR showed improved participation by countries over the years, with Rwanda on track and 21 countries progressing well. Overall, however, the African continent remains below track. The biggest challenge to the review process is data collection and the availability of information. Countries also need to scale up the use of data in decision-making, to improve accountability, formulate better policies, ensure better utilization of resources, and better targeting of country-specific interventions. More attention must also be directed to monitoring and evaluation which directly to the quality of data gathered. This means increasing funding for all aspects including data collection, cross-checking, analysis and exploring public-private partnerships in the areas of data generation, analysis, and research and development.
IWMI, through this collaboration, is providing technical support and guidance along with the latest innovations in sustainable agriculture and water management practices and tools.