Evidence on Key Policies for African Agricultural Growth
It is widely agreed that reducing poverty in Africa south of the Sahara (SSA) depends largely on stimulating growth in agriculture. To this end, heads of state in Africa rallied to form the pan-African Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) with the goal of raising investments and improving strategy implementation. However, while implementing an agricultural agenda under the CAADP framework, more and more countries have realized that increasing public investment in agriculture alone is not enough. Policy can play an important role not only to make public investment more efficient, but also is crucial for incentivizing private sector and farmer investment in agriculture. Against this backdrop this paper takes stock of current agricultural policies in SSA with a view to identifying policies that are working as well as areas for improvement. The paper examines policies to encourage the adoption of agricultural inputs, initiate greater private-sector investment in agriculture and agro-industries, and manage price volatility while encouraging openness. The paper further reviews successful land tenure policies and property rights systems, reviews the evidence on the synergies between agriculture and nutrition, and examines how CAADP is laying the institutional architecture for improved policy formulation in Africa. In general, the paper finds that although substantial progress has been made, there is considerable scope for improvement. This is not surprising given the relatively primitive and deeply rooted nature of smallholder farming in Africa. Evidence synthesized in the paper supports the view that most policies cannot be implemented in isolation. Rather, policies tend to be most effective when implemented along with complementary policies and public investments.