Background and Issues Facing the Agricultural Sector
1. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is slowly recovering from a protracted conflict that exacted a heavy human and economic toll on the country. The Government's key priorities for re-embarking on the growth path include agriculture, mining, and the restart of industry and services. Agriculture, a traditional engine of growth for most Sub-Sahara countries, has had a lack-luster performance during the past decade in the DRC, despite the country's undisputed natural endowment. The agricultural sector GDP growth declined from an average 4 percent per annum during 1970-1990 to -5 percent in the succeeding decade. War induced destruction of the production base and mismanagement of sectoral affairs vastly contributed to the decline. However, while agricultural performance has deteriorated, its contribution to overall GDP (56 percent) has grown - largely as a result of the collapse of the mining and manufacturing sectors.
2. The DRC's agricultural sector faces three major challenges. First, the poor state of physical communication infrastructure has been a major deterrent to producing beyond subsistence needs, and has inhibited private sector initiatives in input and output marketing. Second, years of neglect of agricultural services have resulted in a low-technology, lowproductivity agricultural base; compromising the supply response needed to meet a growing demand for food and contributing to macro-imbalances. Third, despite putting due emphasis on agriculture in previous development plans, ensuing sector policies and strategies in retrospect appear misguided. In addition, while there are currently several sectoral and sub-sectoral strategies and policies, coordination among these policies and actual implementation continue to be a challenge. Among the reasons for this weak policy environment are: (i) Poor coordination among the various units within the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) as well as among the MoA and other ministries. (ii) A lack of appropriately skilled staff in the MoA. The Ministry mainly comprises staff that lacks technical capacity for macroeconomic policy formulation and impact assessment. (iii) A lack of financial resources and equipment for information collection, processing, and presentation to decision makers. In addition, information flow from the grassroots to the MoA is weak.