Progress in Agriculture
Jan. 13, 2012
Share the proof:
Planting seeds, watering and tilling fields, harvesting food, and caring for cows, chicken and other animals is a “day in the life” for the 3 out of 4 people that live in extreme poverty. Roughly 1 billion people, 265 million who live in sub-Saharan Africa, rely on agriculture for their livelihoods or, more simply put, a source of food and income for all their needs.
The majority - two-thirds - of these farmers work small plots of less than two hectares and are predominantly female. Poverty is projected to remain overwhelmingly rural until at least 2025, which is why agriculture plays an important role in poverty reduction and development. Helping smallholder farmers grow more food and create more job opportunities for those living in rural areas is a proven pathway out of poverty. Growth in agriculture is twice as effective in reducing poverty as growth in other areas. Investments in agriculture and rural development are helping millions earn a better living, grow more nutritious food, and build better futures for themselves, their families and their communities.
Some of the most striking signs of progress include:
• Reducing extreme poverty: Between 1990 and 2005, 400 million people worldwide have been lifted out of extreme poverty.  In 2010, 98 million less people are going hungry than in 2009. 
• Reducing the proportion of hungry people: Today’s popula- tion is more than 6 billion people and 5 billion people - or about 80 percent of humanity - have enough food to eat to maintain a productive and healthy lifestyle, compared to just 60 percent in the mid-1960’s.  There are already 12 countries that have reached the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to halve hunger from 1990 levels, and others such as China and Brazil are well on their way. 
• Saving lives through technological innovation: The public and private investments in research, irrigation, infrastructure and extension that underpinned the Green Revolution reached an estimated 1 billion people in terms of increased incomes and access to food. Without the Green Revolution, an estimated 30 million children would have died in poor countries between 1970 and 1990. 
• Economic development: Ghana’s agriculture sector is grow- ing at more than 5 percent per year and Ghana cut hunger levels by 75 percent between 1990 and 2004 and poverty dropped by nearly 50 percent, making Ghana on track to become the first country to meet the first MDG of halving poverty and hunger from 1990 levels.
• Raising yields: Malawi transformed itself from a net-importer to a net exporter of maize for four years running, and even became a food donor to neighboring Swaziland and Lesotho. Rwanda’s government increased agriculture as a share of the budget from 3 percent to 7 percent and raised food production by 15 percent in 2007 and 16 percent in 2008. Ethiopia now invests over 15 percent of its national budget in agriculture. The country’s cereal yields rose 25 percent between 1995 and 2008. Hunger and malnutrition dropped 35 percent over the same period.
• Capacity building: In Ghana, an MCC program trained farmers in best practices for participating in value chains. Nearly 50 percent of the program participants are women who learned about choosing the best seeds and fertilizers, using appropriate storage bags and tools. 
• Conservation farming: In Zambia, farmers used agro-forestry practices or the use of growing of both trees and horticultural crops on the same land to improve soil fertility. The 80,000 farmers who adopted these practices took in a profit of $2 million between 2005 and 2006. 
• Expanding small-scale irrigation: In Burkina Faso, 80 percent of the population lives in rural areas and farm activities account for nearly 30 percent of GDP, 6,800 small scale farmers, 25 percent women, raised rice yields by up to 53 percent and more than doubled their incomes over 4 years from improved water management and small scale irrigation schemes. 
• Rural finance: A World Bank financed project targets women and other vulnerable people, such as those living with HIV/AIDS, to help them form groups based on common eco- nomic interests and to develop plans and request financing for income- generating activities. The program has reached 2.3 million farm families across Nigeria and raised household incomes on average by 60 percent between 2005 and 2007.
• Infrastructure and market development: In Ethiopia, the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA) has invested about $500 million since 1991 to build roads that will connect farmers to local markets. Since 1995, Ethiopia's road network increased from under 23,500 km of roads to over 37,000 km in 2005.
Since the height of the global food crisis in 2008 more global attention has been given to agriculture and food security in developing countries than in the previous two decades. This added momentum has produced strong results, including commitments to help close the gap left by the drop from $20 billion in the mid-1980’s to less than $5 billion in the early 2000s, pledges to improve the process and outcomes for delivering support to agriculture, and global and regional initiatives to strengthen cooperation and coordination amongst donors.
In response to the 2008 global food crisis, the United Nations established a High Level Task Force (HLTF) and the Global Partnership for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition (GPAFSN) emerged with support from the G8, European Union and African Union to co-ordinate responses to skyrocketing food prices that pushed millions into poverty. With a focus on global advocacy for emergency funding and long-term development, inspiring broad engagement of multiple stakeholders and improving accountability of the international system, the HLTF produced a plan of action for global food security called the Comprehensive Framework for Action (CFA). The CFA, updated in 2010, outlines recommendations for action by country governments, international and regional organizations, and civil society groups for actions to reduce food insecurity. Moving forward, a reformed Committee on World Food Security (CFS) - the UN forum for developing policies on food security - aims to serve as the inter-governmental and inclusive stakeholder platform for advancing the GPAFSN.
In 2009 at the L’Aquila G8 Summit, the G8 and other donors committed to provide $20 billion, eventually revised to $22 billion, over 3 years under the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI) to address the global food crisis and reverse the decline in funding to the agriculture sector. As part of this initiative the AFSI donors also established a World Bank managed trust fund called the Global Agriculture and Food Secu- rity Program (GAFSP) which has leveraged nearly $1 billion from bilateral and private donors to finance ‘gaps’ in national food security and agricultural development plans. The initiative is most recognizable for the commitments to aid effectiveness: funding comprehensive food security plans that are recipient driven, derived from inclusive and participatory stakeholder consultations, such as country-led processes like the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), encourage donor coordination, leverage contributions from multilateral organizations and focus on smallholder farmers and women.
In 2003, the African Union adopted the CAADP agenda calling on African governments to dedicate 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture and seek 6 percent annual agricultural growth.
Eight countries - Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Mali, Malawi, Ghana, Niger, Senegal, and Zimbabwe - reached or surpassed the 10 percent goal and another nine spent between 5 percent and 10 percent of their national budgets on agriculture.
Ten countries - Angola, Ethiopia, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda - have exceeded the 6 percent growth target. Another 14 recorded growth rates for agriculture between 3 and 6 percent. 
Investments in agriculture transform lives. Farming is a source of income and employment for the majority of the world’s poor and two-thirds of those in sub-Saharan Africa. Enabling poor farmers to grow more nutritious food increases incomes, improves family health, nutrition, education and builds vibrant rural markets. A seed can be a catalyst for building and sustaining economies when farmers are given the skills, tools and resources tailored to their specific needs. In order to achieve long-term global food security and economic development, all stakeholders - donors, governments, multilateral institutions, the private and non-profit sectors and farmers themselves - need to refocus and redouble efforts to invest more and more sensibly in agriculture.
Deliver on and exceed the L’Aquila commitments
The G8 and other AFSI donors must follow through on their 2009 L’Aquila G8 commitments to deliver $22 billion in an accountable and effective manner whereby all initiatives are country-owned, coordinated and transparent. Donors must clarify how this funding is being spent, and ensure that it truly serves those for whom it is intended: smallholder farmers and women. Furthermore, L’Aquila only extends through 2011 or 2012, depending on individual commitments. A longer-term frame work is needed to achieve meaningful and long-lasting food security and poverty reduction.
Implement the Comprehensive Framework for Action
The CFA represents the consensus view of the United Nations system and other multilateral organizations, such as the World Bank, on how to respond to the global food crisis in a coherent and coordinated way from addressing immediate humanitarian needs to medium- and long-term investments in agriculture to achieve food security and economic development. Bridging all aspects of humanitarian and development assistance including food aid and nutrition, social protection, small- holder farming, local and regional food markets and agricultural trade, the CFA represents the most inclusive process thus far to coordinate actions to address global food insecurity and poverty. Yet most recommendations have yet to be acted upon. All actors must redouble efforts towards financing these needs and implementing them in more effective manners.
Promote the CAADP Agenda
CAADP is an African-led initiative that has made great progress during its short time-span, yet it needs an infusion of funding, capacity building and political support to ensure its success. African governments must meet their Maputo commitments to allocate 10 percent of national budgets to agriculture. Donors must also renew vigor into this process by ensuring that agriculture and food security remain on their political agendas. This can be done by commiting to provide technical support and capacity building to enable all African countries to develop inclusive, participatory and sound investment plans, as well as fund the Multi-Donor Trust Fund to ensure these plans will be implemented.
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