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Setting priorities for public spending for agricultural and rural development in Africa:


  • Fan, Shenggen
  • Mogues, Tewodaj
  • Benin, Sam


"Agriculture and rural development must play a central role in stimulating economic growth, reducing poverty, and improving food and nutrition security in Africa. The food price crisis of 2007–08 highlighted the dramatic implications of world neglect of agricultural development over the past two decades. The current global economic recession now underscores the need for urgent attention to measures that could promote agricultural growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Agriculture in Africa has not performed as well as expected during the past few decades. Agricultural growth rates in the region have increased modestly from about 2.4 percent a year in 1980–89 to 2.7 percent in 1990–99 and 3.3 percent a year since 2000.1 Only a handful of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa—Ethiopia, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, and The Gambia—have surpassed the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) threshold of 6 percent agricultural growth in recent years. Looking at poverty outcomes, whereas many developing regions, especially Asia and the Pacific, are on track to meet the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG 1) of halving poverty by 2015, progress in Sub-Saharan Africa has been slow. As a result, Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region of the developing world expected to have more poor people in 2015 than it did in 1990. Public spending is one of the most direct and effective instruments that governments can use to promote agricultural growth and poverty reduction, yet public agricultural spending in Africa has historically been very low compared with that in other developing regions. In recent years many Sub-Saharan African countries have pledged to increase government support to agriculture in order to achieve the goal of 6 percent annual agricultural growth, set by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) through CAADP. As part of the Maputo Declaration of 2003, African heads of state agreed to allocate 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture. Yet many African governments are operating in an environment of scarce public resources, and so far only a few states have met these growth and spending targets. As African governments work to increase agricultural spending and boost agricultural growth, they face a dearth of information about which types of public investments contribute the most to development goals. How should scarce resources be allocated across different sectors of the economy—such as agriculture, infrastructure, health, and education—for maximizing development outcomes? Within agriculture, how should resources be allocated among, for instance, agricultural research, extension, irrigation, and input subsidies? In some cases African countries have clear principles on how to prioritize their scarce public resources, but they often lack the information needed to operationalize these principles. Drawing mainly on case studies from Africa, but also from Asia, this brief provides insights on the contributions of different types of spending to poverty, growth, and welfare outcomes in a variety of circumstances. These circumstances include, for example, Ethiopia's relatively large share of public spending allocated to agriculture, Nigeria's rich natural resource endowments, Ghana's relatively sound governance environment, Uganda's past success in economic growth and poverty reduction, and Tanzania's rapid transition from a planned to a market-driven economy." from Author's text

Suggested Citation

  • Fan, Shenggen & Mogues, Tewodaj & Benin, Sam, 2009. "Setting priorities for public spending for agricultural and rural development in Africa:," Policy briefs 12, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:polbrf:12

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    Cited by:

    1. Xincai Gao & Lin Ji & Abbas Ali Chandio & Amber Gul & Martinson Ankrah Twumasi & Fayyaz Ahmad, 2022. "Towards Sustainable Agriculture in China: Assessing the Robust Role of Green Public Investment," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(6), pages 1, March.
    2. Renkow, Mitch, 2010. "Impacts of IFPRI's "priorities for pro-poor public investment" global research program:," Impact assessments 31, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    3. Akinwumi A. Adesina, 2010. "Conditioning trends shaping the agricultural and rural landscape in Africa," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 41(s1), pages 73-82, November.
    4. Dhahri, Sabrine & Omri, Anis, 2020. "Foreign capital towards SDGs 1 & 2—Ending Poverty and hunger: The role of agricultural production," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 208-221.
    5. Dethier, Jean-Jacques & Effenberger, Alexandra, 2012. "Agriculture and development: A brief review of the literature," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 175-205.
    6. Adesina, Akinwumi A., 2009. "Africa's Food Crisis: Conditioning Trends and Global Development Policy," 2009 Conference, August 16-22, 2009, Beijing, China 53199, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    7. Fan, Shenggen & Brzeska, Joanna, 2011. "The nexus between agriculture and nutrition: Do growth patterns and conditional factors matter?," 2020 conference briefs 1, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    8. Léopold Ghins & Alban Mas Aparisi & Jean Balié, 2017. "Myths and realities about input subsidies in sub-Saharan Africa," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 35, pages 214-233, October.
    9. Wiebelt, Manfred & Pauw, Karl & Matovu, John Mary & Twimukye, Evarist & Benson, Todd, 2011. "Managing future oil revenues in Uganda for agricultural development and poverty reduction: A CGE analysis of challenges and options," Kiel Working Papers 1696, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel).
    10. Hedtrich, Johannes & Aßmann, Christian & Henning, Christian, 2018. "Key Sectors - Key Policies: Challenges on Estimating and Validating a Policy-Impact Function," Conference papers 332937, Purdue University, Center for Global Trade Analysis, Global Trade Analysis Project.

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    Agricultural development; Public spending; Rural development; Priority setting;
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