Aid for Agriculture: Promises and the Reality on the Ground

Coordinating Donor Interventions in Three West African Countries

Publication date: 5 November 2009

Since the beginning of the 1980s, the agricultural sector has gradually dropped down the list of priorities for state development aid in West Africa, as well as that of national policies.  At the same time, more people in the region are going hungry, due in part to the recent hike in food prices.
In Burkina Faso, Niger and Ghana the vast majority of the population is rural and depends on agriculture, which is both the main means of reducing poverty and to ensure better food security at national level.
A year and a half after the High-Level Conference on World Food Security organised by the FAO in Rome, this study attempts to put forward an initial review of the commitments made by the international community, in terms of funding, co-ordination of interventions on the ground and support to national agricultural policies and programmes.
Based on the reality on the ground in three West African countries: Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Niger, this research does not claim to present an exhaustive overview of whether financial pledges; co-ordination of interventions; and support to national strategies have become a reality on the ground or not. But by giving concrete examples, it presents the major challenges and stakes that will determine the future development of the agricultural sector in the three countries studied.

Key recommendations

For technical and financial partners

  • Concretely invest in the drafting and implementation of sector-wide programmes.
  • Use and strengthen the existing bodies and procedures and draw on the stakeholders’ precedence.
  • Move on from the dialogue stage to real intervention co-ordination.
  • Transform the financial pledges made at international level into additional, long-term, predictable funding to strengthen the ongoing national and regional processes.

For governments

  • Actively provide direction to the drafting and implementation of sector-wide food security and agricultural policies and programmes.
  • Ensure proper leadership in co-ordinating TFP (technical and financial partners) interventions.
  • Work on implementing a regional trade policy that ensures the development of the agricultural sector at both regional and national levels.
  • Make agriculture and food security real budget priorities.

For civil society organisations and NGOs

  • Invest in co-ordination, decision-making, and policy-drafting bodies for agriculture and food security;
  • Ensure quality aid from international NGOs.