Johannesburg, South Africa, 1-5 March 2004


Table of contents


1. In 1996, at the World Food Summit held in Rome, Heads of State and Governments committed to halve the number of undernourished people in the world by 2015. In the follow-up to the Summit, National Strategies for Food Security and Agricultural Development (NSFSAD) – Horizon 2010 were prepared by FAO member countries with the support of the Organization. A total of 117 countries formally endorsed these papers, 40 of them in the Africa region. In some countries the strategies were presented and endorsed by the Parliament while in others by the Head of State or Government. They were subsequently reflected in national and sectoral development programmes. These national strategies also provided the basis for regional food security strategies and programmes, prepared by Regional Economic Communities with the assistance of FAO, nine of which were prepared in Africa.

2. Between 2000 and 2001, an updating exercise was proposed by FAO and over 100 governments benefited from TCP support to organize national multi-stakeholder one-day workshops aimed at discussing and reviewing the national strategies. Thirty-three such workshops were organized in Africa and attended by representatives from government, farmers’ organizations, NGOs, research and academic institutions, consumer associations, parliamentarians and donors.

3. Following the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the holding of the World Food Summit: five years later in June 2002, FAO launched an Initiative to Support the Review and Update of National Strategies and Policies for Food Security and Agricultural Development aiming at revisiting the national long-term vision of agricultural development and food security and extending existing strategies to the Horizon 2015 and, as a result, adjusting them with the timeframe of the MDGs.

4. FAO has been providing assistance to its member countries in this process, with the specific objective to:

5. The African Union Declaration (Maputo, 2003) and the NEPAD Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) offered a new impetus and renewed framework for this initiative in Africa. At country level, existing national strategies and on-going processes, programmes and strategic frameworks such as the African Development Bank Country Strategy papers, the World Bank Country Assistance Strategies, the IFAD Country Strategic Opportunity Papers and UNDAF, also offer a sound basis for this endeavour.

6. The basic premises underlying the proposed review are that hunger is a cause as well as a consequence of poverty and that the majority of poor and food insecure people live in the rural areas. It follows that achieving massive and sustainable poverty reduction entails targeting hunger directly so as to increase productivity and productive potential of those who suffer from it and stimulating agriculture and rural development essential for overall economic growth and sustainable rural poverty reduction. The updated national strategies are expected to address the entire rural space, considering spatial, sectoral as well as micro-macro linkages, the urban dimension of food insecurity and cross cutting issues such as public sector reform, decentralization, trade, HIV/AIDS and macro-economic reforms. This is consistent with the NEPAD-CAADP framework.

7. The purpose of this paper is to update the Regional Conference on the process followed for updating and reviewing the national strategies for food security and agricultural development, inform on some of the key results obtained and explore the way forward to strengthen the strategy formulation processes in the countries of the region.


8. The Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union, held in Maputo, Mozambique, in July 2003, resulted in a “Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in Africa” which emphasizes the need to revitalize agriculture, including livestock, forestry and fisheries. This will be achieved through special policies and strategies targeted at small scale and traditional farmers in rural areas and the creation of enabling conditions for private sector participation, with emphasis on human capacity development and the removal of constraints to agricultural production and marketing, including soil fertility, poor water management, inadequate infrastructure, pests and diseases. The Declaration also confirms the commitment made by African leaders to give high priority to the fight against hunger and the resolution of constraints hampering agricultural production, trade and rural development. In the Declaration, African leaders resolved to adopt sound policies for agriculture and rural development and commit themselves to allocate at least 10 percent of national budgetary resources for their implementation within five years.

9. In a meeting on the implementation of the NEPAD-CAADP, organized at FAO, in Rome, in September 2003, representatives of 18 African Ministries of Agriculture from member countries of the NEPAD Implementation Committee, the NEPAD Steering Committee, and representatives of International Development and Financial Institutions and of civil society emphasized that the implementation of the CAADP at country level should build upon national strategies and policies, including PRSPs, and recognized the importance of addressing policy and institutional constraints and the value of placing projects in the context of strategies and programmes.

10. At the Ministerial Meetings on NEPAD-CAADP Implementation organized in Rome on 5th and 6th December 2003, participating countries reported that they were progressively ensuring that national strategies are being streamlined to accord high priority to agriculture and food security. In this respect, countries welcomed FAO support for the formulation/update of national strategies and the preparation of medium-term programmes (or update if these already exist) and bankable projects. These high level meetings have contributed to add to the importance and urgency of reviewing and updating national strategies and policies and provided an enhanced framework for this undertaking.

11. FAO support to this process, provided through its Policy Assistance Division, since September 2003, has been following the steps mentioned below:

12. In addition, FAO has attempted an inventory of existing national strategy and policy documents and processes throughout the world, including in Africa, and prepared Country Policy Profiles (CPP) in close collaboration with FAO representatives and in consultation with governments. A total of 105 CPPs have been prepared, 29 of which for countries in Africa. The CPPs aim at a review of the state of strategies and policies for food security and agricultural development in FAO member countries, and identifying the policy support needed for reviewing and updating them. Further refined, the CPPs would enable to appropriately target FAO policy support to countries in line with their policy status and national on-going policy process. In addition, they will contribute to strengthening policy networking and providing adequate focus on agriculture, a key sector for poverty reduction in most countries.


13. The results obtained so far by the updating process include for the Africa region, 47 updated draft summary National Strategies for Food Security and Agricultural Development that will provide, once finalized in consultation with Member Governments, the overall strategic framework for the Medium-term Investment Programmes (MTIP) and bankable projects being prepared in the framework of the implementation of the NEPAD CAADP. Besides, 29 CPPs give insight into the main areas where member countries feel there is a need to strengthen their capacity for policy and strategy formulation.

On-going policy processes in Member Countries

14. Based on the inventory undertaken by FAO, member countries in the Region have on average around 6 different officially approved strategy or policy papers that contribute to the definition of their agriculture and food security policies. These papers are usually recent (two thirds have been prepared between 2000 and 2003). These papers mostly focus on food security or poverty, agriculture and rural development policies and strategies. Around 30 percent of the existing papers are multipurpose policy documents. Existing strategies and policies are at various levels of implementation. In addition, in most countries there are more than one on-going policy or strategy processes which started since 2002. Thirty-two African countries are involved in a poverty reduction strategy process, 18 countries have completed full PRSPs. NGOs are involved in over half of policy exercises, as are other civil society organizations. Local governments and authorities are also actively taking part in two-thirds of the policy processes reviewed. The multiplicity of existing policy documents and processes suggests the need for effective inter-ministerial mechanisms to ensure consistency and coherence among them during formulation and implementation, particularly as regards cross-sectoral issues.

Main focus of strategies and policies reviewed

15. The review also allowed for an analysis of the specific content and focus of government action in favour of food security and agricultural development. Almost all summary national strategy documents address issues related to water (rainfall instability or drought), weakness of public institutions and rural finance. A large proportion also deals with measures in favour of access to and adoption of appropriate technology, marketing of agricultural inputs and outputs, other agricultural services as well as rural infrastructure. Natural resource degradation, particularly land and water resources, are other areas addressed by the strategies. Finally, because of the high prevalence of conflicts in the continent, almost half of the strategies are concerned with post-conflict rehabilitation.

Crop production development is a priority sub-sector in almost all of the summary national strategies, livestock in three-quarters of the documents, fisheries in two out of three, forestry and agro-industry in about half of cases.

16. With regard to the domains of investment needs proposed in the strategies they mostly emphasize infrastructure, particularly roads in virtually all countries, and water management, irrigation and sustainable management of natural resources.

17. From the point of view of output production and disposal, options in the strategies pertain to the development of domestic food market-oriented commodity chains in a large majority of countries, while development of export crops and diversification of production are proposed in about half of the documents. Trade and regional integration also have a considerable importance in the strategies and reflect regional and global commitments made by countries as members of Regional Economic Organizations and the WTO.

Opportunities for strengthening strategy and policy formulation and implementation

18. From the launching of the process, three major areas have emerged with regard to strategy and policy process:

19. With regard to the content, there appears to be a renewed will to design strategies and policies addressing the broader context of rural development. Close to half of the countries surveyed have identified this area as one where strengthening is required, particularly with respect to ensuring synergies among sectoral strategies and addressing important cross-cutting issues such as rural institutions, gender, income generation (including off-farm), development of drought-prone and other unfavourable areas and HIV/AIDS. Subsectoral issues like credit, land tenure and commodity policies were also identified as areas for attention.

20. The policy formulation process has seen an increasing involvement of stakeholders, particularly from civil society and private sector. Ensuring an effective contribution of their representatives requires strengthening their capacity to participate in the strategy and policy dialogue, as well as enhancing the capacity – particularly of government – to manage complex participatory processes, facilitate convergence of views and achieve consensus building. This area for improvement is identified by around one fourth of the countries surveyed.

21.Implementation of agreed policies and strategies is a domain where close to two out of three countries feel there is ample scope for improvement. Implementation is often constrained by the lack of available resources to put new measures in practice. This is particularly the case of funding, either because of insufficient budget allocations or due to limited donor support. Human resources also often constitute a limiting factor, where adequate operational and technical capacity of public organizations lack and where individual staff do not have the proper skills. Tailor-made capacity building activities, particularly in policy formulation and implementation could help address this issue. Weak inter-ministerial coordination mechanisms and difficulties with conflict-resolution are additional institutional constraints that hinder implementation. In some cases, implementation planning could be improved to bring more clarity in responsibilities of actors involved and ensure a proper scheduling.

22. FAO has been actively involved in providing policy assistance to member countries in the region. Twenty-nine countries have benefited from FAO support through recent or on-going projects. However, more support needs to be provided by development partners, including FAO, WFP, IFAD, World Bank and African Development Bank to address the constraints identified during the review process.


23. Since the launching, around a year ago, of the Initiative to Support the Review and Update of National Strategies and Policies for Food Security and Agricultural Development, considerable progress has been made. In the Africa region, Draft Summary National Strategies for Food Security and Agricultural Development – Horizon 2015 are available for most member countries and the process of finalizing them is going on in consultation with member governments. The review of policy processes conducted by FAO, in collaboration with governments, however suggests that there is still considerable work to be done to streamlining existing policy and strategy documents and address constraints identified in the process of formulation and implementation of policies and strategies. FAO, together with other development partners of member countries, should make all necessary arrangements to provide the required support to this endeavour and mobilize human and financial resources to carry it forward successfully in a fully participative manner.

24. The preparation of the Country Policy Profiles and the Updating and Review process have helped to characterize the main focus of the strategies adopted and allowed identifying systematically the key issues faced by member countries in the region in their attempts to develop agriculture and improve food security. The information gathered is consistent with and confirms the focus given to the NEPAD-CAADP and will be instrumental to orient normative work conducted by FAO and other organizations to better meet the needs of member countries. This demonstrates the usefulness of this undertaking and indicates the advantages that could be generated by establishing the updating and reviewing process on a continuing basis. Results obtained could be periodically reviewed at the time of the Regional Conference, and serve to establish regional priorities. One possibility could then be to design programmes focusing on regional priority themes and combining normative work, exchange of experience among countries in the region and with successful countries in other regions, capacity building and technical assistance. Themes that could be considered, as suggested by the results of the analysis of the CPPs, include: cross-sectoral synergies and rural development strategies, water and drought-management policies and strategies; institutional reform; strategies to address HIV/AIDS in rural areas; strategies for development of unfavourable and marginal areas; research and technology transfer; investment policy – including policies to promote private investment and diversification.

25. The participants in the Regional Conference are invited to put forward their views on the validity of this on-going process, as well as the ways and means through which formulation and implementation of strategies for food security and agricultural development could be strengthened and the needs identified could be met.