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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs