News / Africa

African Countries Come Up Short on Investment in Agriculture

Jennifer Lazuta
Only seven of the 53 African Union countries who pledged to commit at least 10 percent of their national budgets to investment in agriculture in 2003 have reached that goal. Aid organizations say that investment in agriculture is key to breaking the cycle of food insecurity and crisis in West Africa. As the declaration approaches its 10th anniversary on Wednesday, the aid groups are calling on AU countries to renew their commitment to the Maputo Declaration.  
 
In 2003, 53 African heads of state agreed to allocate at least 10 percent of their national budgets to investment in agriculture and livestock by July 2008.  Ten years later, only seven countries - Burkina Faso, Niger, Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Malawi and Ethiopia - have reached that target.
 
Many countries, such as Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau and the Democratic Republic of Congo, currently devote less than three percent of their national budgets to investment in agriculture.  This is despite the fact that small-scale farmers represent more than 80 percent of their populations.
 
Eric Hazard, the campaign manager for Oxfam’s West Africa GROW campaign, said that investment in agriculture is important for a country's development.
 
"In Africa, we know that 90 percent of the population living in rural areas is living with agriculture and by agriculture.  We also know that we are in some regions in West Africa, for example, where we are facing some regular and recurring food crises.  So we can’t continue to believe that we will be able to resolve the food insecurities that all the population is facing by ignoring this sector.  So it’s critical in terms of guarantees of food security of the population, but it’s also critical to ensure that we will reduce the poverty," he said. 
 
Hazard said that investing in livestock is also important. 
 
In Niger, for example, where livestock accounts for 22 percent of the country’s exports and is considered a key means of reducing poverty among the country’s poorest, only 1.7 percent of the national budget is spent on the sector. 
 
Mamadou Alassane Ba is the coordinator for the western branch of the Association for the Promotion of Livestock in the Sahel and Savannah.  He said that increasing agricultural investments has little to do with the size of a country’s budget.
 
He says that obtaining the 10 percent level of investment in agriculture is a matter of political will.  He says that while many countries in the region do face real challenges, even some of the world’s poorest countries have been able to achieve the 10 percent goal.  There are many other countries, he says, who have the means to reach the 10 percent, but have not yet taken the initiative.  So that’s a matter of political will, he says.
 
Hazard said that while reaching the 10 percent goal is important, it's only the first step.  The quality of the investment is also important. 
 
"Even countries that have been able to reach [the 10 percent] - for example, the case of Burkina Faso, who is the champion of Maputo, who was the first one, in fact, who dedicated the most resources in its agriculture budget - the actual execution, the real expenditure of this budget, remain very low.  Only between 65 and 70 percent of resources allocated are really spent [on farmers]," he said. 
 
Hazard said the money often goes to ministry expenditures, such as employee salaries and meeting costs.
 
Experts say that West Africa’s population is expected to double by 2030.  In order to feed the estimated 500 million people who will be living in the region then, and to avoid further and more severe food crises, aid organizations are now urging AU countries to renew their commitment to the Maputo Declaration and make quality investments in the agricultural sector.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Oxfam Eric
July 10, 2013 12:04 AM
Please just get you Southern counterpart to comment on the Zimbabwean agricultural scenario, which will help explain the difficulties and food shortages. Better still visit the Country.

by: Demitu Wake
July 09, 2013 7:31 PM
The transparency record of the countries such as ethiopia has to be carefully considered. I am an Ethiopian who knows the situation on the ground. It is difficult to trust this claim. The Ethiopian tyrant ruling party has a bad record of voilence against human right. It calls itself a developmental state as a cover for its brutal human rights record. It claims almost a decade of double digit growth which IMF and world bank do not recognize. The people of Ethiopia do not buy it at all. This might be an extension of the continued fabrication of numbers. One can realize how the government is ambitious on numbers if you attend one of the joint donors and governement representative meetings.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs