By Robel Yohannes
– “It has always been heading our dev’t strategy”- Khalid Bomba, CEO of ATA
Leadership and ownership to achieve food security has made agriculture a priority among development policies in Africa, while it has been in the forefront of Ethiopia’s development strategy. This was disclosed at one of the side events of the International Financing for Development Conference entitled ‘Leadership and Partnership to Achieve Global Food Security’, organized by the US government and the African Union Commission held to highlight how African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) is working across Africa.
One of the panel discussions held on the programme highlighted the promotion and implementation of the CAADP model in Africa with its effects on multi-sector involvement in the sector. Dr. Abebe Haile Gabriel, Director for Rural Economy and Agriculture with the AU, on the occasion said that before the launch of CAADP in 2003, the agriculture sector didn’t have friends in those places that can make things happen and it was characterized by neglect.
According to him, the decision to adopt CAADP was basically a move towards making agriculture among priorities in terms of development policy. “One of the achievements of the implementation of CAAPD has been the success in bringing agriculture to the top of the agenda of policies”, he said.
It required a lot of leadership where changes have happened because of the deliberate action on policy, on investment and on result. He concluded his opening remark by saying that the framework targets signatory countries to allocate 20 per cent of their national budget to agriculture. “The information we have now for example shows that more than 18 countries allocate more than 5 per cent of their GDP to agriculture”. Talking about Ethiopia specifically with regards to promotion and implementation of CAADP, Kalid Bomba, CEO of the Ethiopian Agriculture Transformation Agency (ATA) said that the framework actually builds on what Ethiopia has been doing rather than introducing something new to the foray.
Unlike many African countries, agriculture has always been in the forefront of Ethiopia’s development strategy, he said. The Growth and Transformation Plan implemented by Ethiopia for the past five years has exactly the same four principles: increase production, commercialization, natural resource and disaster management.
Coming to how the CAADP model set the foundation for enhanced engagement of the private sector, Dr. Abebe said CAAPD is about prioritization of agriculture, and about inclusive engagement with relevant stakeholders such as the private sector, the civil society, the youth and women associations and development partners.
Governments should play a critical leadership role in providing market, soft and hard infrastructure to the sector to be competitive and be able to attract the private sector. Citing Ethiopia as an example, the Director said ownership of the agriculture agenda should be enhanced by streamlining it to other ministerial sectors.
On the subject, Kahlid said much of the agricultural development in Ethiopia has been fueled by government investment and local partners, which also required an emphasis of private sector investment.
The policy investment framework worked to mobilize the sector through identifying investment gaps which found 15 billion USD worth of investment priorities, he said. Although Ethiopia made good progress in mobilizing some of the resources and the private sector came in, Kahlid admitted that they are still a little bit away from meeting few private sector investment needs on the agriculture sector.