Emerging economies are being fairly reluctant towards fully aligning their agricultural support to the CAADP (Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme) framework.
In a study undertaken by ECDPM, “Emerging economies and the changing dynamics in African agriculture: what role for CAADP?, we interviewed several official representatives from countries such as India, Brazil, China and South Korea who all stated that CAADP in its current form offered limited attraction. The framework is still seen as heavily influenced and guided by traditional OECD donors, and aligning with this type of encompassing policy framework would not be consistent with many emerging economies’ principles of non-conditionality and non-interference.
However, despite its many weaknesses, CAADP remains the only cross continental agricultural strategy acclaimed to be fully Africa owned and Africa led, which begs the question of why so little effort has been made to include all relevant partners around the table? Even if the hesitancy of the emerging economies might be valid, it still ought to be in the interest of NEPAD to ensure greater donor support and alignment.
So Why Has NEPAD not Asked Emerging Partners to Join?
Officials from the NEPAD Agency argue that the support provided by emerging economies currently isn’t large enough to require greater coordination strategies, in particular when the interest of the partners is so limited. Yet, some actions have been taken. China and NEPAD recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding on African Agricultural Growth, in which both parties committed to enhancing the participation of the African and Chinese private sectors in the African agricultural sector, as well as to establish regular policy and technical dialogues to promote agricultural and rural development. NEPAD will assist this initiative by supporting AU member states incorporating these activities into the national CAADP development processes.
However, the majority of the emerging economies are not likely to sign up to the CAADP framework within the foreseeable future. In order to establish a minimum of coherence and strategic efficiency of the national agricultural development programmes, the aforementioned study suggests some pragmatic actions.
First, as emerging economies in general tend to cooperate bilaterally and engage in ad hoc technical projects rather than long-term strategic dialogues, it might be more feasible to take a country-by-country and project-by-project approach. As was repeatedly stated during our interviews, many emerging economies provide exclusively demand-based support. Thus, if the national government ensures that the priorities formulated in the CAADP investment plan are included in these demands, the provided support will logically also be coherent with the investment plan.
Second, an imperative step forward will be to establish informal multi-stakeholder discussion platforms, aimed towards mutually beneficial partnerships and improved understanding of each partners’ objectives, modalities and practices. There is a very wide range of stakeholders involved at present and relations are often characterised by a lack of open and constructive communication, which leads to low levels of trust and mutual understanding. For instance, representatives from European donor agencies and NGOs often view China’s activities in Africa with scepticism, while many Chinese representatives see themselves as providing more modern and efficient alternatives to the outdated, patronising and inefficient development strategies of the EU. Besides, several African stakeholders (ministries, civil society, farmers organisations, etc.) emphasised that their viewpoints are too often ignored and that they are commonly left out of policy discussions about sustainable agricultural development and the roles of both traditional donors and emerging economies in Africa.
This policy dialogue would also be relevant for the private sector, as improved public-private dialogues could enhance a more inclusive approach to private investments. In establishing a fora that works towards the ‘normalisation’ of government-business relations, which engages national governments and private firms (both from emerging and traditional partners), greater opportunities arises for national government to liaise with the private sector and to promote joint initiatives that aligns with strategic agricultural development priorities.
Finally, a better overview of the various drivers behind agricultural support and investments can improve the understanding of how CAADP can be made more attractive to some of the new partners. The emerging economies are a naturally heterogeneous group of countries, with very different demands, strategies and interests of which some will fit better with CAADP than others. Furthermore, there are many different actors within the emerging economies (as within the traditional donors), of which some will have greater incentives for further engaging in e.g. trilateral cooperation projects than others. Thus, by first outlining and understanding where interest exists and how cooperation can be framed, progress is more likely.
The views expressed here are those of the authors, and may not necessarily represent those of ECDPM.