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Framework for African Agricultural Productivity

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The Framework for African Agricultural Productivity (FAAP) is a document published in 2006 by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).

"NEPAD has requested the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) to take the lead in developing a framework through which the challenges prioritised by the CAADP Pillar IV might effectively and efficiently be achieved. In response to NEPAD’s wishes, FARA has, in consultation with stakeholders, developed the Framework for African Agricultural Productivity (FAAP). This framework addresses the challenges of CAADP Pillar IV and its aim to achieve strengthened agricultural knowledge systems delivering profitable and sustainable technologies that are widely adopted by farmers resulting in sustained agricultural growth. This will require major improvements in African capacity for agricultural research, technology development, dissemination and adoption, together with enabling policies, improved markets and infrastructure."[1]

The Call for 6% Annual Growth in Agriculture

FAAP asserts that, in order to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving poverty by 2015, African nations must maintain agricultural growth at an annual rate of 6.2%.[2] In order to do this, FAAP states that "increasing agricultural productivity not only relies on improved production efficiencies, such as through adoption of modern or improved technologies and practices, but also critically relies on many other factors such as adequate access to productive resources, well functioning markets and infrastructure, and a conducive policy environment (e.g., stable macro-economic policies)."[3]

Additionally, the document notes that much of Africa's previous agricultural growth was due to increases in land and labor, not inputs. Since it estimates that growth based on increased land and labor cannot continue at the same pace as in the past, the growth must come from agricultural inputs.

"In addition to technology, adequate access to rural infrastructure has been essential for promoting growth in agriculture as well as in the non-farm economy and rural towns, and for strengthening rural-urban demand linkages. Equally important is that growth most be broad-based, so the majority of smallholders also benefit from technology innovation. Distortions in prices also need to be removed to provide incentives for farmers to invest and produce."[4]

FAAP concludes that 6% growth in agriculture requires 4.4% growth in productivity. It states:

"The emerging African agenda for improving agricultural productivity, profitability, and sustainability through innovation highlights three principal elements: (i) institutional reform, including the efficient use of resources for activities that are most likely to achieve productivity increases; (ii) increasing total investment; and (iii) harmonising funding."[5]

Institutional Reform

FAAP begins, saying:

"At present, farmers’ needs and those of agri-business too often do not sufficiently drive the orientation of agricultural research and extension services, causing lack of relevance and impact. Even when relevant, know-how and technologies are too often not widely taken up by farmers, suggesting also the lack of effectiveness in the transfer of technologies."[6]

It then sets out the following list of principles:

1. "Empowerment of end-users to ensure their meaningful participation in setting priorities and work programmes for research, extension, and training to ensure their relevance.
2. "Planned subsidiarity to give responsibility and control over resources for agricultural research, extension, and training activities at the lowest appropriate level of aggregation (local, national and regional).
3. "Pluralism in the delivery of agricultural research, extension, and training services so that diverse skills and strengths of a broad range of service providers (e.g., universities, NGOs, public and the private sectors) can contribute to publicly supported agricultural productivity operations.
4. "Evidence-based approaches with emphasis on data analysis, including economic factors and market orientation in policy development, priority setting and strategic planning for agricultural research, extension, and training.
5. "Integration of agricultural research with extension services, the private sector, training, capacity building, and education programmes to respond in a holistic manner to the needs and opportunities for innovation in the sector.
6. "Explicit incorporation of sustainability criteria in evaluation of public investments in agricultural productivity and innovation programme (fiscal, economic, social and environmental).
7. "Systematic utilisation of improved management information systems, in particular for planning, financial management, reporting, and monitoring and evaluation.
8. "Introduction of cost sharing with end users, according to their capacity to pay, to increase their stake in the efficiency of service provision and to improve financial sustainability.
9. "Integration of gender considerations at all levels, including farmers and farmer organizations, the private sector, public institutions, researchers and extension staff."[7]

Farmer Empowerment

FAAP then calls for "farmer empowerment," stating: "Farmers who have the capacity to analyse their constraints and identify opportunities, articulate their needs, exchange knowledge, and improve their bargaining power will have better access to, and use of, relevant agricultural knowledge and technologies."[8]

It defines farmer empowerment as follows:

"Empowerment is attained when farmers, through their groups, networks of groups and associations, acquire the ability to determine their own needs and production targets, and assume the authority, resources and capabilities to hold accountable and influence the content of public and private agricultural services, such as extension, research, training, information, investment and marketing."[9]

Agricultural Extension

Within FAAP, another component of institutional reform is agricultural extension:

"Moving towards more participatory agricultural extension will allow greater responsiveness to farmers’ needs and facilitate learning how they could increase their own productivity, raise their incomes, collaborate effectively with one another (and with partners in agri-business and agricultural research) in addressing their individual and their common problems, and become actively involved with major stakeholders in determining the process and directions of innovation, including technology generation and adoption."[10]

FAAP calls for extension agents to "shift from prescribing to facilitating." Thus "Instead of trying to “sell” predefined packages, extension will increasingly focus on building capacity among rural people to identify and take advantage of opportunities (both technical and economic) and to cope more effectively with risk and adversity."[11] Under this model, "farmers will be better equipped to select, test, compare and adapt appropriate technological, service and market options."

FAAP recommends privatization of extension services under "performance-based contractual arrangements." This leaves the government in the role of financing, regulating, and providing training and information to the private extension services. What's more, costs of extension should be "gradually shared with local governments, farmers’ associations, and eventually the producers themselves."[12]

Agricultural Research

FAAP outlines the importance of research, noting that "research leads to the generation and adaptation of technological, sociological and economic innovations" for farmers, which in turn leads to "adoption of yield-enhancing technology and practices" and thus leads to increased productivity.[13] In other words, the end goal of FAAP and research is increased agricultural yields. FAAP calls for research conducted by both the public and private sectors, as well as universities, NGOs, and in some cases, farmers' organizations. It specifies that the government should contract out research to the private sector, etc. Thus, the research will be publicly financed but privately carried out. Additionally, it calls for sharing the costs of research between national and local governments, farmers' organizations, and agri-business. FAAP also calls for cross-country collaboration to enhance efficiency, so that individual countries do not carry out redundant research. Last, "Greater emphasis should be given to human resource development and in the agricultural research system, through improved salaries, performance-related pay, better working conditions, and training opportunities."[14]

Agricultural Training and Education

FAAP calls for increased farmer training and education both as a way to stimulate agricultural productivity and as a way to make farming as a career more attractive to students.[15] It cites World Agroforestry Centre's The Farmers of the Future program as a model to emulate. Specific approaches to training and education should include: "field days and Farmer Field Schools, community radio and village telecentres. In view of the distances and poor infrastructures, agricultural actors must also take advantage of modern information and communications technologies (ICTs) and distance learning methodologies, which empower farmers and allow them to demand for and access suitable knowledge."[16] Additionally, FAAP deems the quality of college level agricultural education is "critical" because "it determines the expertise and competence of scientists, professionals, technicians, teachers, and civil service and business leaders in all aspects of agriculture and related industries."[17]

According to FAAP, agricultural education must:

  • "Create competitive working conditions that attract and retain the best brains which requires establishing standards for institutional reforms (in structure and programmes), as well as increased and better utilization of resources.
  • "Establish links between national, sub-regional, regional and global institutions.
  • "Make curricula more responsive to development needs.
  • "Improve access to locally relevant educational materials based on agricultural research experiences in Africa.
  • "Breakdown the institutional and programmatic separation between universities and [National Agricultural Research Institutions] which result in inefficient use of capacity and unproductive competition.
  • "Enhance the quality of the delivery of education by upgrading knowledge and skills of researchers and educators.
  • "Enhance teaching and training in technologies that could make faster progress in addressing African agricultural constraints, including biotechnology and ICT."
  • "Contextualise teaching in the management of risk and uncertainty related to smallholder agriculture, e.g., climate change, globalization, and international agreements and conventions.
  • "Prepare students better with the skills and tools they need for developing and implementing knowledge-based innovation systems.
  • "Improve integration of land use and environmental topics (including biodiversity, bio- energy, carbon sequestration, etc.).
  • "Enhance the enrolment of women, commensurate with their predominant role in the sector.
  • "Establish links in the education system from formal teaching to professional training.
  • "Create synergies among institutions and curricula in education, research and extension.
  • "Improve aspects of value adding, marketing and agri-business."[18]

Increasing Investments

As of 2005, spending on Sub-Saharan Africa's agricultural research and extension was estimated at $2.5 billion per year, mostly spent on national programs. FAAP calls for increasing spending on national programs to a total of $3.25 billion per year across Sub-Saharan Africa.[19] Additionally, it calls for increasing spending administered at the sub-regional level from $25 million to $500 billion per year and maintaining spending on "global" programs at $250 million per year.

At the 2005 levels of spending, half of the spending was financed by governments and half by external sources. At that time, on average, African agricultural research and development intensity [total public spending in agricultural research and development, as a percentage of agricultural gross domestic product] was around 0.75 percent of agricultural GDP, or less than a third of that of developed countries. FAAP note that the Inter-Academy Council recommends that African countries increase agricultural research and development spending to reach at least 1.5 percent intensity by 2015. That would raise annual aggregate spending to $4 billion by 2010. While FAAP calls on African nations to increase their investment in agricultural research, it also calls on developed countries, associated development agencies and international financing institutions to "honour their commitment to substantially increase their support to these programmes."[20]

It ends, noting that "African governments have committed to spending 10% of their national budgetary resources on agriculture" and adding that increased spending is not the only necessity to achieving FAAP's aims: the money must be spent well. Thus, an analysis must be completed of all current spending to realign it with FAAP's goals.

Aligning Financial Support

FAAP notes that in the past, donors have provided funds but their support "has generally been fragmented and inadequately coordinated, mostly through financing of discrete projects." It adds that, "This has often resulted in creating parallel systems with separate management, procurement, staff recruitment and remuneration packages, as well as accounting and reporting."

Thus, FAAP calls for harmonization and alignment of financial support, defining each as follows:

  • "Harmonization: donors organize their activities in ways that maximize their collective efficacy. By promoting the use of common arrangements, harmonization may help increase effectiveness by focusing resources on a common, agreed upon objectives. Harmonization can increase aid efficiency by reducing, for donors and partners, the administrative burden of managing multiple activities.
  • "Alignment: donors base their support on partner countries’ (or SROs’) development strategies, systems and procedures. For partner countries or (SROs’), it means having sound and operational development policies, strategies and systems for managing aid. For donors, it means using partner countries policies, strategies, institutions and systems as the framework of reference for providing aid."[21]

The document adds:

"This shift towards alignment and coordination (sometimes called harmonization), which is also supported by NEPAD], was formalised by donors and partner countries in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness which advocates that: (i) developing countries exercise effective leadership over their development policies, strategies, and to coordinate development actions; (ii) donor countries base their overall support on receiving countries’ national development strategies, institutions, and procedures; (iii) donor countries work so that their actions are more harmonized, transparent, and collectively effective; (iv) all countries manage resources and improve decision-making for results; and (v) donor and developing countries pledge that they are mutually accountable for development results. Regarding agricultural and rural development, harmonization is also encouraged by the Global Platform for Rural Development (GDPRD)."[22]

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