Walking the Talk: Why and How African governments should transform their agriculture spending

Report for ActionAid (December 2013)

This report involves extensive secondary and primary research in seven African countries – Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia. It examines how well focused governments’ agriculture spending is on promoting the needs of smallholder farmers, especially women farmers, and makes recommendations for far-reaching changes. It examines agriculture spending and quality, the lack of support to women farmers, the need to provide greater support to extension services, agricultural research, sustainable (ecological) agriculture and rural credit, and the need to improve transparency and participation in policy-making.

In 2003, African states pledged in the ‘Maputo Declaration’ of the African Union to spend 10 per cent of their budgets on agriculture within five years. Ten years on, African governments still allocate an average of only 5 per cent of their national budgets to agriculture. Only seven out of 49 African countries have consistently reached the 10 per cent target. This and other policy failings is holding back food production and food security in Africa, where 223 million people (a quarter of the population) live in hunger. African governments are largely failing the continent’s smallholder farmers, who comprise most of its people and produce most of its food. Women, who comprise most farmers and manage Africa’s food security, are being largely ignored.

African Heads of State and Government have designated 2014 as a Year of Agriculture and Food Security. Yet, like the Maputo Declaration, this will remain an empty phrase unless governments commit to walking the talk when it comes to agriculture spending.

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