“Donors go home!” Money and politics in African agriculture

African governments have been criticised for their lack of political will in investing more in agriculture, and for a gap between rhetoric and action. Can donors be accused of the same thing? After the food crisis of 2007/8, John Barrett of DFID admitted, in the morning session, that donors woke up to the fact that they had neglected agriculture and rural development for the past 10-15 years. “There was a tremendous renaissance around tackling food security,” Barrett said. “And our commitment to reverse decades of neglect culminated in the Aquila Declaration. It was the first time we had a commitment, a number and a target but the challenge is how to transform that into food on plates. Five years on it is important for us to examine what impact that has had.”

“CAADP could be the best thing that has happened to Africa,” said Bubu Khan, although some countries are better than others at implementing it – and learning from their mistakes. “CAADP is one framework that has African ownership. However it now needs a strong focus on women and youth and a more pragmatic response on climate change.” Colin Poulton expressed concern that whilst 40 CAADP compacts have now been developed in recent years, many of these exist only on paper in order to be donor compliant and have not been implemented. “More monitoring and evaluation for effective implementation is required.”

However, what progress can be made when, as Chance Kabaghe ex Minister of Zambia stated from his experience, that “politicians will always take advantage – so will technocrats. We start out well with the best of intentions but we now have to ask ourselves how we best get out of the situation.” Gem Ardwings-Kodhek threw out a challenge to his peers in suggesting “perhaps we need to hear more from the politicians so we get to know what they really think so we can enter into a more effective dialogue, instead of just talking to one another.”