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Issue paper

Agricultural Policy Incentives in Sub-Saharan Africa in the Last Decade (2005–2016). Monitoring and Analysing Food and Agricultural Policies (MAFAP) Synthesis Study. FAO Agricultural Development Economics Technical Study 3

The study summarizes the results emerging from the 2017 update of the Monitoring and Analysing Food and Agricultural Policies (MAFAP) indicators for the 2005-2016 period for 14 sub-Saharan African countries. These indicators - comparable across commodities, countries and years - are commonly used to assess the extent of policy support in agriculture. They measure the effect of trade and market policies and inefficiencies on the degree of price incentives faced by farmers in key commodity value chains, as well as the level and composition of public expenditures in support of the agriculture sector. Despite results being very heterogeneous across countries and commodities, aggregate figures indicate that price incentives to agriculture are overall increasing across the period. Policies focused on supporting domestic production, through import tariffs and price support, are likely to be the main drivers of such a trend, following the food price crises period (2007–2011) when policy-makers were mainly concerned about consumer protection. Despite that, market inefficiencies still persist as a source of price disincentives to farmers and a major constraint on agricultural development. Consistently, public expenditure indicators confirm that direct budget transfers in support of producers, mainly in the form of input subsidies, continue to represent the largest part of agriculture expenditure in most countries. In general terms, only a few countries increased the share of agricultural expenditure within total public budgets in 2015. Expenditures on research and knowledge dissemination are overall stagnant or declining. Food crops continue to dominate public budgets while spending on cash crops or “innovative” products as well as on value chain integration and commercialization remains limited. Some efforts to convert resources that were previously allocated to input subsidies into investments in agricultural and rural infrastructures are seen.