The launch of the baseline report on the current Agricultural Total Factor Productivity (ATFP) took place at a cocktail event organized as part of the African Union (AU) Second Ordinary Session of the Specialized Technical Committee on Agriculture Rural Development, Water and Environment. Attended by over 200 participants, of the event, which took place on the 5th of October 2017, at the African Union Commission Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, brought together, Ministers of Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment, and frontline technocrats.
In his opening remarks, the Executive Director of FARA, Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo welcomed the Honourable Ministers to the launch and noted that the current investments in Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) in Africa are far below the world average. He stated that “if Africa is to address the needs of its fast growing and urbanising population, then the application of science is imperative”. This, he added, is currently being championed by FARA under the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa (S3A), which provides the guiding principles for Africa to take charge of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), within the context of Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Plan (CAADP) and the roadmap strategy for implementing the 2014 AU Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Africa Agricultural Growth and Transformation (A3GT).
The launching statement delivered by the AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture H.E. Sacko Josefa Leonel Correa noted that the increasing productivity through research is one of the seven Malabo commitments.
“The target is that by 2025, hunger is eradicated in Africa through doubling productivity. This requires a credible baseline. It was on this basis that the AU sactioned the conduct of these Total Factor Productivity studies and assigned FARA to lead the studies”.
She expressed optimismism that the studies will be used as baseline to track the performace of various agricultural policies and programmes at national, regional and continental levels.
ABOUT THE TOTAL FACTOR PRODUCTIVITY BASELINE STUDY.
The total factor productivity baseline study was conducted by FARA at the request of the AU Commision to provide the much needed starting point to effectively measure progress towards the attainment of the target of Malabo declaration by African Heads of State. A key part of the goals of the Malabo declaration is the doubling of agricultural productivity by 2025. This is expected to bridge the productivity gap that has limited the realization of the needed growth and broad-based prosperity from African agriculture. Having set the laudable goal, it is imperative to establish the current status of total factor productivity as a baseline on which progress will be measured.
The study used a sample of eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa; and state-of-the art evaluation tools (quantitative and qualitative) to generate inferences. Key findings from the studies suggested the need for the following actions:
A drastic change is required in the current system for technology generation- dissemination- adoption. This is vital as the study indicated that the conventional approaches will not yield the desired doubling of productivity. If the current circumstances prevailed, the study revealed that it may take between 18-50 years for the different countries to double their agricultural productivity. Obviously, no country in Africa can wait for this long to experience agricultural transformation.
Increased investments in the agricultural sector emerged as a strong trigger for the desired agricultural productivity. Apparently, investment in agriculture will need to come from both public and private sector actors. Such investmentments need to be stimulated in part by engaging political leaders to demonstrate true political will and channel public investment into the agricultural sector. In turn, the policy system will need to create the needed enabling environment to woo private investment into critical areas of the agricultural sector.
More efforts are needed to address system-wide inefficiencies that hinder productivity growth. The study also showed a lower GDP growth rate compared to population growth rate in all the countries. The GDP growth rate itself needs a boost; action in this direction is expected to trigger commodity demand pull and hence a positive engagement to meet the needs that are generated.
The study also demonstarted the need to give more attention to the industrial development of African agriculture as shown by the positive relationship between manufacturing needs and agricultural productivity. This suggests that a positive growth in the manufacturing sector and its demand will be the best way to drive the needed productivity at farm level.
The desired productivity growth will ride on the wings of appropriate technologies driven by science; embracing interventions that boost science capacity at country level is a sure way to growth, and the action of FARA and its wide stakeholders within the S3A would go a long way to help reach the Malabo productivity goal by 2025.
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