Poverty rates decline in Africa as agriculture fuels development

 

Poverty rates have declined in African countries, a new report released by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

Dubbed ‘African Agriculture Status Report (AASR): Progress towards an Agriculture Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa’, the report says that Ghana, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso have experienced a high decline in poverty rates.

The analysis serves as a curtain raiser for this week’s high-powered African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Nairobi, which is attracting heads of state and high-level officials from around the world. Economista say it could lock in hundreds of millions of dollars in new investments for Africa’s often struggling farmers.

“The last ten years have made a strong case for agriculture as the surest path to producing sustainable economic growth that is felt in all sectors of society and particularly among poor Africans,” said AGRA President Agnes Kalibata.

She added that many governments face significant budget constraints and far too many farming families continue to lack basic inputs, like improved seeds or fertilizers. “But the evidence is clear. When we invest in our farmers and in all the things they need to succeed, good things happen across the economy,” she said.

The report indicates that much of Africa has enjoyed sustained agriculture productivity growth. Since 2005, agriculture has also had its biggest impact in countries that moved quickly to embrace the African Union’s Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme or CAADP, which was created in 2003.

A key component of CAADP was its call for African governments to allocate 10 per cent of national budgets to agriculture and to aim for six per cent annual growth in the sector.

The AGRA report notes that even if they didn’t hit the 10 percent targets, early adopters of the CAADP goals have seen productivity on existing farmlands rise by 5.9 to 6.7 per cent per year.

“This boost in turn helped spur a 4.3 percent average annual increase in overall GDP,” according to the report. “Those later to the game achieved anywhere from a 3 to 5.7 per cent growth in farm productivity and a 2.4 to 3.5 per cent increase in GDP.
Meanwhile, countries that sat on the sidelines saw farm productivity rise by less than 3 per cent and GDP rise by only 2.2 per cent.
The trend is similar for declines in malnutrition, with countries that have embraced the CAADP process experiencing annual declines ranging from 2.4 to 5.7 per cent, while those who have not averages only a 1.2 per cent decline.

A decade of intense domestic attention to farmers and food production has generated “the most successful development effort” in African history, with countries that made the biggest investments rewarded with sizeable jumps in both farm productivity and overall economic performance.

 

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