Africa will be home to more than 2.4 billion people by 2050. This population growth is driven by declining child and infant mortality rates; as well as an increase in average life expectancy to over 70 years. By 2030, an additional 350 million people will have transitioned to be urban dwellers across the continent. All these factors lead to an increased demand for healthy and nutritious food; yet today, about a fifth of Africa’s population (278 million people) suffer from chronic hunger. To address this demand and supply gap, optimal policy interventions become a necessity at the national, regional and continental level.
The African Food Systems Policy Agenda aims to address the complex challenges faced by the continent in ensuring food security, promoting sustainable agriculture, and improving nutrition for its rapidly growing population. The agenda is designed to be collaborative, inclusive, and context-specific, recognizing the diversity of African nations and their varying food systems.
The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) is one such policy framework and program designed to accelerate agricultural development and promote food security across the African continent. The program was launched by the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) in 2003; and it aims to transform agriculture in Africa into a more productive, efficient, and sustainable sector. The CAADP seeks to achieve specific agricultural and economic targets, including a 6% annual growth rate in agricultural GDP.
The CAADP Report serves as a roadmap for African countries and stakeholders to work together towards transforming agriculture in Africa, ensuring food security, fostering economic growth, and promoting sustainable development. It promotes the idea that agriculture can be a catalyst for broader social and economic transformation on the continent.
CAADP follows a country-led approach, where each African country takes ownership of its agricultural development plan. The program recognizes that specific challenges and opportunities vary across countries, and tailored strategies are necessary to address them effectively. In addition, CAADP emphasizes the importance of aligning national agricultural policies with the program’s principles and pillars. This includes increasing public and private investment in agriculture, with the target of allocating at least 10% of national budgets to the sector.
The programme is anchored on four main pillars which include (a) Extending the area under sustainable land and water management; (b) Improving rural infrastructure and trade-related capacities; (c) Increasing food supply and reducing hunger; (d) Enhancing agricultural research, technology dissemination, and adoption.
Under Pillar 1 on extending the area under sustainable land and water management; the programme seeks to promote sustainable land use practices, such as conservation agriculture and agroforestry. It also seeks to improve water management through irrigation and water harvesting techniques. Under Pillar 2 on improving rural infrastructure and trade-related capacities; the programme seeks to enhance rural transportation networks to connect farmers to markets. It also seeks to strengthen market information systems to improve price transparency and efficiency. In addition, the second pillar seeks to promote investment in post-harvest handling and storage facilities to reduce food losses.
The third pillar is on increasing food supply and reducing hunger; and it focuses on supporting smallholder farmers with improved access to inputs, credit, and extension services. This pillar also seeks to promote the adoption of improved crop varieties and livestock breeds; as well as addressing nutrition challenges through diversified and nutritious food production. The fourth and final pillar of CAADP is on enhancing agricultural research, technology dissemination, and adoption; and it seeks to promote investment in agricultural research and development to generate new technologies and innovations. It also focuses on facilitating the dissemination and adoption of agricultural best practices among farmers; as well as strengthening agricultural education and training systems.
To track progress on the four pillars, CAADP has a biennial review at the continental level to assess progress towards CAADP goals and targets. The review is aimed at identifying areas of success and areas that require further attention and support; as well as recommending strategies for improving the effectiveness and impact of the CAADP initiative.
Another important component of the CAADP is the country progress and mutual accountability element. This includes reviewing progress made by individual African countries in implementing their CAADP-based agricultural development plans. It also encourages mutual accountability, where countries report on their achievements and challenges in a transparent and participatory manner. Through this process, lessons learnt by individual countries and best practices are shared among countries to enhance learning and collaboration.
Two decades later, the jury is out there as to whether the objectives of the CAADP have been achieved or not. With 20% of the population in the continent being undernourished today; Africa needs to walk the talk, since the right policies seem to be in place already.
Author: Jeremy Riro
Food Systems Lead at Fie-Consult