Oct 212010

Excerpt from Fertile Ground: How governments and donors can halve hunger by supporting small farmers, 2010
By ActionAid

Between 1980 and 2005, funding for agriculture from most national governments and donors all but dried up. In 1984, agriculture received 16 per cent of total aid, but by 2006 it had fallen to less than 4 per cent – in absolute terms it halved during this period. After years of willful neglect under structural adjustment programmes, agriculture is now firmly back on the agenda, and many governments and donors have finally started increasing spending on agriculture, particularly in Africa under the aegis of theComprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

To make maximum impact on poverty and food security, it is critical that this investmentresponds to the needs and priorities of the smallholder farmers who grow over 50 percent of the world’s food and as much as 90 per cent of the food produced in Africa. This report identifies five major problems with current government and donor agricultural spending:

  • Neither governments nor donors are currently spending enough on agriculture.
  • Agriculture budgets fail to focus on the people who do most of the farming –smallholder women farmers.
  • The things that would help poor farmers and women the most – such as extension services, agricultural research focused on smallholders and rural financial services – are the most under-resourced. Cheaper, ecologically sustainable methods of increasing productivity are being neglected in favour of conventional chemical dependent approaches that may benefit richer farmers most, and can have high environmental costs.
  • Donors are using resources poorly by failing to uphold the aid effectiveness commitments of the Paris Declaration of 2005.
  • Ministries of Agriculture are ill equipped to spend existing resources effectively.
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