Designing policies aiming at promoting agricultural development and reducing poverty and food insecurity in developing countries requires the capacity to analyse and synthesize a considerable amount of information and data, and interact with a variety of people with different backgrounds, points of views and interests. It involves accounting for economic (macro, meso and micro), demographic, technological, institutional, social and political factors. It obliges to look back to recent - and sometimes remote - history, assess experiences in other countries, and be concerned with the immediate future as well as with the medium or long term. It demands to be aware of the evolving international situation and the implications the international environment will have on the country for which policies are being designed. In other words, it is a complex process, some would say, an art.
Designing policies for agricultural development, food security and poverty reduction requires considerable knowledge, sound theories, multidisciplinary skills, suitable tools adapted approaches, and interpersonal skills. Much of this can be taught in courses. Yet, unless all this knowledge and all these skills are mobilized and combined in an appropriate way, in a context of partial, doubtful and contradictory information, under pressure of time and in a specific institutional context, it is difficult to be sure that a real policy development capacity has been created. It is these imperfect conditions that the Southland Case Study tries to create for the participants to mobilize all their abilities for a common purpose and gain some experience in conditions simulating real life.
The Southland Case Study was created by FAO, in collaboration with the Imperial College London - then Wye College - back in the 80s, when stabilization and structural adjustment were on the agenda. It has been successfully used on many occasions and in different locations since then. It was updated as the history of the fictitious Southland unfolded, following patterns similar to those of many developing countries. But it had never been published. It is hoped that publishing it will help its dissemination and that it will be used widely in capacity development institutions concerned with agricultural development and food security worldwide.
Policy Assistance Division