Recurring Food Crises, a Call to Boost Agricultural Productivity,
says a new report from independent evaluation at
multilateral development banks.
January 31, 2011,
Washington, D.C. – The Evaluation
Cooperation Group (ECG), a network of independent evaluation units of
multilateral development banks (MDBs), released today a synthesis evaluation on MDB
assistance to Agriculture and Agribusiness. The
evaluative lessons assume special significance today as the world faces the
possibility of another food crisis, with food prices reaching a record in
December on higher costs for sugar, grain and oilseeds. The overarching message
in this context concerns the urgency to raise productivity all along the
agricultural value chain.
in agricultural productivity suffered a slowdown as investments by developing
countries and donors declined sharply in the last two decades -- the bi-lateral
and multilateral assistance alone to the sector fell by some 40 percent
by early 2000s from its peak in the mid-1980s. This slowdown has been
especially felt in Sub-Saharan Africa, where productivity has been the lowest
and where the vast majority of the population depends on agriculture for their
the renewed attention from governments and the donor community to agriculture
is reflected in a notable increase in official development assistance, which
rose to over $8 billion in 2008 from an average of $3.5-$4.5 billion per year
between 1998 and 2004. The evaluation finds that while the increase in
investments is timely, that alone does not assure results on the ground. The
key challenge is in ensuring that increased investments are accompanied by
polices that will result in improvements in productivity.
view of the complexity of the agricultural production chain, a multi-faceted
approach is key to raising productivity. The ECG report, based on evaluations
of ECG members and relevant research literature, identifies six areas where the
MDBs and the countries can take action.
Ø Research and extension: Investment
in research can yield the highest returns but for it to be effective,
the appropriate technology must reach farmers and be adopted for use within the
different farming systems. In India public investment in agricultural research
accounted for nearly 30 percent of the sector’s growth. International
institutions can play an essential part in facilitating better outcomes from
research and extension.
Ø Access to water: Effective
water management and irrigation can drastically increase productivity, however,
to date only a small percentage of agricultural land is irrigated for
much of the developing world. In Tanzania, of the 44 million hectares suitable
for agricultural production, only a mere 2 percent is irrigated for
cultivation. Addressing inefficient management practices in water use and
rain-fed agriculture is vital for the growth of the sector.
Ø Access to credit:
Inadequate incomes and limited access to credit impede growth, especially in agriculture-based economies.
International institutions have played a significant role in facilitating
access to credit through rural finance programs but sustainability beyond
project duration remains a challenge. Going forward, it will be crucial to also
leverage private initiatives in this area.
Ø Access to land and land rights: Land tenure gives farmers rights to an important asset with
two critical benefits: it encourages long-term investment in land and
credit access by providing collateral. Uncertain
land tenure or limited private use rights greatly restrict the efficacy of
rural development activities.
Ø Roads: The greatest
returns for agricultural productivity often result from investments in roads.
In Ethiopia access to all-weather roads decreased poverty by some 7 percent and
increased food consumption by nearly 17 percent. Today there continue to be
large differences in road accessibility across regions. Inadequate maintenance
of rural roads hinders the growth of productivity.
Ø Policies, markets and agribusiness: Increased productivity largely depends on enabling
frameworks and policies for agribusiness, agro-industry and improvement of
markets. Market failures have been acute, especially in rural Africa.
International institutions can play a more prominent role in facilitating the
improvement of markets and supply chains, while better leveraging the role of
the private sector.
factors are central to the effectiveness of these six steps. Among them,
crucial are client commitment, country capacity, and good governance. Positive
outcomes are also contingent on coordination within organizations and among
countries and partners.
The ECG study Evaluative Lessons for
Agriculture and Agribusiness can be found at: www.ecgnet.org/documents/agriculture
ABOUT ECG: The Evaluation Cooperation
Group (ECG) is a network of evaluators of multilateral financial institutions
(MFIs) established in 1996 to strengthen the use of evaluation for greater MFI
effectiveness and accountability; share lessons; harmonize performance
indicators and evaluation methodologies and approaches; enhance evaluation
professionalism within the MFIs and collaboration with the heads of evaluation
units of bilateral and multilateral development organizations; and facilitate
the involvement of borrowing member countries in evaluation and build their evaluation
ECG members include the African Development Bank
Operations Evaluation Department, Asian Development Bank Independent Evaluation
Department, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Evaluation
Department, European Investment Bank Operations Evaluation, Inter-American
Development Bank Office of Evaluation and Oversight, International Fund for
Agricultural Development Office of Evaluation, International Monetary Fund
Independent Evaluation Office, Islamic Development Bank Group Operations
Evaluation Department, and the World Bank Group Independent Evaluation Group.
The United Nations Development Programme Evaluation
Group and the Evaluation Network of the Development Assistance Committee of the
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development are observers. Black Sea
Trade and Development Bank Independent Evaluation Office and Council of Europe
Development Bank Ex Post Evaluation Department are aspiring members.
ECG members encourage journalists to also
contact management of the multilateral finance institutions.