Policy and institutional reforms
Macro-economic and trade policy reforms in most countries in the 1980s underpinned rapid growth, since they removed the inherent bias against agriculture and the disincentives imposed by foreign exchange and trade controls. Trade liberalization and open markets encouraged foreign direct investment, facilitating transfer of technologies and, in recent years, integration of supply chains.
Institutional innovations rationalized property rights, encouraged long term private investment and generated favourable dynamics for agricultural productivity and output growth.
The role of governments evolved towards the provision of enabling environments and public goods bringing significant pay-offs in efficiency gains, reduced transaction costs and private development initiatives.
A lack of progress in public policy and programmes in land reform did not help growing landlessness, land fragmentation and unsustainability of farming systems – and resulted in low productivity in food production and lack of income and employment opportunities in rural areas of many countries.
While there is a wide diversity and mixed pattern of experience across the region, many countries saw widening participation of stakeholders, including civil society, and shaping of development activities in ways more attuned to local conditions, endowments and needs.
Civil society, including farmer’s organizations, has played an increasing role in sharing information and communication on agricultural, environmental and development issues with decision makers at all levels. This was done by building effective institutional mechanisms for policy advocacy on local to global concerns.