|Observations (click here to go to Recommendations)|
- Agricultural development in Africa is a complex technical, economic, social, and political challenge that has to be overcome if the Region is to reduce extreme poverty and hunger — to meet the first Millennium Development Goal.
- Given the diverse constraints to agricultural development in Africa, the strategy for the development of the sector needs to be multifaceted, with coordinated interventions across a range of activities.
- The Bank has had limited success in helping address the challenges of agricultural development in Africa.
- The Bank now has an opportunity, drawing on its comparative advantage as a multisector lending institution and as the single largest donor to African agriculture (during 1990–2005), to help ensure a coordinated and multifaceted approach to agriculture development in Africa.
- The institution's strategy for the development of the agriculture sector has been part of its rural strategy, and over time the importance of agriculture in the Bank's rural strategy has declined. Both arising from and contributing to this, technical skills to support agricultural development adequately have also declined over time. Data from the Human Resources Department of the World Bank show that there were a total of 17 technical experts mapped to the Agriculture and Rural Development Department in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2006 compared with 40 in 1997.
- The Bank's diagnosis of a country's development status and priorities in the agriculture sector is carried out primarily through analytical work. Until very recently this has been limited and not readily available. Nor have the findings from analytical work strategically informed Bank client policy dialogue and lending program design.
- Bank policy advice appears to have had far-reaching implications for the direction of agricultural development in African countries, in particular its policy advice associated with the adjustment agenda. However, results have fallen short of expectations because of weak political support and insufficient appreciation of reality on the ground, among other things.
- The Bank's data systems and support for M&E have been insufficient to adequately inform the institution's effort to develop agriculture in Africa across a broad front. Current data systems do not allow the institution to track in enough detail how much is being provided for development of specific activities such as seed development and credit. M&E at the project level has been of limited value in answering fundamental questions about outcome, impact, and efficiency, such as who benefited, which crops received support and how, what has been the comparative cost effectiveness, and to what can one attribute the gains.
- Although the governance environment in several African countries continues to be weak, political commitment for the development of agriculture in client countries appears stronger now than in the past. African governments, many of which were allocating less than 1 percent of their budget to agriculture, agreed in July 2003 at the African Union Summit to allocate at least 10 percent of national budgetary resources for programs to support agricultural growth in the next five years.
- Considerable agricultural research capacity exists although sustainability of activities supported remains uncertain. Overall government capacity in several countries remains weak and local agriculture ministries remain relatively ineffective partners in promoting development of the agriculture sector. Though further analysis is needed, the study finding that largely agricultural projects in countries with less favorable agricultural conditions have done better than similar projects in countries with more favorable conditions suggests that other factors, like political economy and country capacity, are also a challenge for agricultural development in Africa.
To effectively support the implementation of the Africa Action Plan and its appropriate focus on agricultural development as a key priority, IEG recommends that the Bank:
1. Focus attention to achieve improvements in agriculture productivity:
2. Improve its work on agriculture:
- Establish realistic goals for expansion of irrigation and recognize the need to increase productivity of rain-fed agriculture through improvements in land quality, as well as water and drought management.
- Help design efficient mechanisms, including public-private partnerships, to provide farmers with critical inputs including fertilizers, water, credit, and seeds.
- Support the development of marketing and transport infrastructure.
3. Establish benchmarks for measuring progress by:
- Increase the quantity and quality of analytical work on agriculture and ensure that policy advice and lending are grounded in its findings.
- Improve data systems to better track activities supported by the Bank.
- Strengthening M&E to report on project activities in various agro-ecological zones and for different crops and farmer categories, including women.
- Develop a system to coordinate agriculture activities in a country with road access, market proximity, and soil conditions.