African countries that took early action in the past decade to invest in agriculture have reaped the rewards, enjoying higher economic growth and a bigger drop in malnutrition, a major farming development organization said recently.
Countries that adopted the policies promoted by the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) not long after it was created by African Union governments in 2003 saw productivity on existing farmlands rise by 5.9 to 6.7 percent per year, the report said. That helped spur a 4.3 percent average annual increase in gross domestic product (GDP).
Growth in agriculture is more effective at cutting poverty than growth in other sectors in sub-Saharan Africa because farming is a main source of income for more than 60%of the labor force, and will continue to be a major employer in most countries for a decade or more, the report noted.
The countries adopting the program early – between 2007 and 2009 – were Benin, Burundi, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Togo, according to the report.
The report, released to inform discussions at the African Green Revolution Forum in Nairobi this week, noted that gains were made in early-moving African countries even if their governments did not hit a target set by the CAADP to allocate 10% of national budgets to agriculture.
Agriculture in Africa is still threatened by low productivity due to limited use of inputs like improved seeds and fertilizers, rising water stress, and climate-related disasters such as floods and droughts that are affecting crop, livestock and fish production, according to the report.