Policy Support and Governance Gateway


FAO’s Regional Office for Africa covers 47 countries with a population of nearly 1.04 billion people. The region faces significant challenges in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, given that 256 million people were undernourished and over 400 million people lived in extreme poverty in 2019.

Adding to the challenge is rapid population growth, high youth unemployment, widespread food safety concerns, transboundary plant and animal pests, as well as huge investment gaps in agriculture.

Agricultural transformation through rural development policies.

At the same time, the African food markets continue to grow. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) comprises one of the world’s largest free trade areas with an estimated GDP of US$ 3.3 trillion. New markets and technologies, particularly digital innovations, represent opportunities for growth.

Rural development policies and interventions will play an important role in addressing these challenges and achieving inclusive agricultural and rural transformation. 

Key policy messages

·         Achieve food safety, food security, and healthy diets for all. Support the development and implementation of national agriculture, food and nutrition policies. Support investment plans to achieve sustainable, inclusive food systems. Develop innovative partnerships through the Hand-In-Hand Initiative and strengthen multi-sectoral coordination mechanisms and capacity for resource mobilization, data collection and analysis.

·        Promote sustainable production intensification and inclusive value chain development. Support governments in adopting innovative financing and risk-sharing mechanisms, and investing in digital innovations to support agriculture. Improve resource governance using Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forestry to strengthen access for marginalized populations. Put in place policy implementation tools to attract more private sector investment in agri-food trade and rural development.

·       Pursue inclusive rural transformation to reduce poverty.Through the Hand-in-Hand Initiative, support countries to accelerate agricultural development and meet SDG 1 (end poverty) and SDG 2 (end hunger). Strengthen rural institutions and access to social protection for the rural poor. Drive agro-industrial development and economic diversification, boost small-scale farmers’ productivity and incomes, and create on and off-farm decent employment.

·        Support market access and improve trade to accelerate growth and regional integration within the context of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. Facilitate commercialization of the agricultural sector and promote agribusiness. To this end, develop policies and strategies to enhance food safety, and control plant and animal diseases. Develop public-private partnerships for agribusiness development and facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogue.

·        Build resilience to strengthen Africa’s agriculture and rural livelihoods. Boost government capacity for disaster risk reduction and responding to emergencies and food crises. Support the development of resilience strategies, build institutional capacity and respond to emergencies in the Lake Chad Basin, the Sahel and Horn of Africa regions, the landlocked countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which face significant food insecurity and nutrition challenges.

Featured regional publications and tools