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At the invitation of the NEPAD Steering Committee, this document, which presents the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) of NEPAD, has been prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in close collaboration with the NEPAD Secretariat. It has followed a consultative process, the key elements of which have been as follows:

The International Fund for Agricultural Development, the World Food Programme, and the World Bank/ Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa partnership have also offered important inputs, comments and suggestions.

The CAADP has been prepared to promote interventions that best respond to the widely recognised crisis situation of African agriculture. It has been cast to deliberately focus on investment into the following three mutually reinforcing "pillars" that can make the earliest difference to Africa's dire situation: (a) extending the area under sustainable land management and reliable water control systems; (b) improving rural infrastructure and trade-related capacities for improved market access; and (c) increasing food supply and reducing hunger. The CAADP also pays attention to emergencies and disasters that require food and agricultural responses or safety nets; if ignored, the dislocation caused by these can undermine or reverse development achievements. In addition, it presents one long-term "pillar" on agricultural research, technological dissemination and adoption.

In no way is the focus on these pillars intended to imply that other things, such as policy and institutional reform, capacity building etc are not important. Indeed, these long-term enabling factors should be integrated into implementation of all the "pillars". However, so deep is Africa's agricultural crisis that priority must go to immediate action that can make the earliest difference and should make use of existing knowledge, capacity, and policy and institutional arrangements. Action to address the African agricultural crisis cannot await achievement of ideal enabling conditions; in the past decades of undergoing structural reforms of its economies, policies and institutions have left Africa with few discernible benefits for the majority of its people; indeed, there may be no assurance of long-term betterment from such reforms.

Among frequent criticisms of this first version of the CAADP is the lack of explicit reference to gender. As indicated in Chapter 5, "special attention must be given to the vital food-producing and entrepreneurial roles of women in rural and urban African communities. African women account for substantial amounts of production in both the informal and formal sectors." It is clearly essential that gender be a core consideration in operationalising the CAADP; at this stage, the broad pillars are important for both men and women. With regard to lack of attention to the livestock and fisheries sectors (immediate potential) and to the forestry sector (long-term importance for food security), it is proposed that the particular needs of these other land-using sectors be taken up in a linked but separate exercise in the near future without holding back the action on crop production which can provide the most urgent calorie supply.

With the broad lines of the CAADP now available, operationalisation needs to be launched - this will require leadership by Africa itself, in the spirit of self-reliance that is the hallmark of NEPAD.

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