In 2003, African Union Member Countries committed themselves to ending hunger in Africa by 2025, later known as the Maputo Declaration. With two years remaining, this blog focuses on the performance of IsDB Sub-Saharan Africa Member Countries (IsDB SSA MCs). To achieve the goal of ending hunger, the declaration’s primary aim was to allocate 10% of national budgets to agriculture and attain a 6% annual growth rate in the sector, focusing on land and water management, rural infrastructure, food production, and hunger reduction, and agricultural research and technology.
Tracking the performance of IsDB SSA MCs
1. Progress on Hunger Reduction
There has been a decrease in the percentage of undernourished people in IsDB SSA MCs, from 27.4% in 2003 to 18.9% in 2020. However, due to population growth, the absolute number of undernourished individuals increased from 82.3 million to 94.2 million. Figure 1 shows the prevalence of undernourishment from 2003 to 2020 at the individual country level.
2. Agricultural Growth: Agricultural output grew by 78% from 2003 to 2022, averaging 4.1% annually, which is slightly below the targeted 6% growth. Nonetheless, agricultural value added met the target, averaging over 6% annual growth.
3. Net Food Deficit: The region’s net food deficit worsened, growing from 0.04% of GDP in 2003 to 0.2% of GDP in 2020.
4. Rural Infrastructure Development: Improvements were marginal, with varied performance across countries. Access to electricity, water, and sanitation services in rural areas showed some progress, but basic sanitation access remains low.
5. Land and Water Management: There has been little change in the percentage of arable land being irrigated since 2003 (Figure 2), indicating a reliance on rain-fed agriculture, which is vulnerable to climate variability.
6. Funding Commitments: IsDB’s agricultural financing far exceeded the Maputo target, with 20.3% of its approvals for SSA MCs going to agriculture. At the individual country level, only five countries (Djibouti, Guinea-Bissau, Togo, Comoros, and Côte d’Ivoire) received IsDB agriculture financing less than 10% of their total country approvals (Figure 3). Cameroon received the highest relative agriculture allocation of 44.9% of the country’s approvals, followed by Burkina Faso (40.6%), and Sierra Leone (36.9%).
However, the IsDB SSA MCs’ own spending on agriculture has been declining, falling from 5.4% of government expenditure post-Maputo to 2.9% in 2021. After an enthusiastic rise from 2.5% of government expenditure in 2003 to 5.4% in the wake of the Maputo Declaration, agriculture spending has trended downward steadily reaching 2.9% of government expenditure in 2021 (Figure 4). From 2003 to 2021, no SSA MC met the Maputo target except Mali. In 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, Mali was the highest agriculture spender (9.2% of the government budget), followed by Benin (8.9%), and Guinea-Bissau (5.4%). Meanwhile, the lowest spenders on agriculture were Gabon (0.4%), followed by Somalia and Mozambique (1.3%) in the same year. In 2020, Mali’s relative agriculture budget share peaked at 13.8%, followed by that of Benin (9.5%) and Guinea-Bissau (5.8%). In contrast, the lowest agriculture spenders witnessed a further decline in their agriculture budget shares.
7. Agricultural Research and Technology: Data on agricultural R&D is incomplete, but available figures indicate a decrease in spending, suggesting a broader trend of declining investment in agriculture-related research and development. Looking at the research and development (R& D) spending on agriculture by a few SSA MCs with data from 2012 to 2021, the average agriculture R&D spending decreased markedly from US$32.5 million in 2012 to US$11.4 million in 2021.
Overall, while there have been pockets of progress, the Maputo Declaration’s goals appear unlikely to be fully realized by 2025. Undernourishment rates have improved but are overshadowed by absolute increases in hunger due to population growth. Agricultural productivity has seen moderate improvement, yet it is insufficient to overcome the expanding food deficit. Rural infrastructure has developed incrementally, but sanitation remains critically underserved.
The lack of significant progress in irrigating arable land underscores a missed opportunity for enhancing agricultural output and stability. Funding has been inconsistent, with IsDB outperforming individual country commitments, which have declined over time. Finally, the decrease in agricultural R&D spending is a troubling sign that could impede future advancements in the sector.
Despite the best intentions of the Maputo Declaration, SSA MCs are facing substantial challenges in eradicating hunger and improving food security. To meet the remaining goals, a renewed focus on consistent funding, investment in infrastructure, and technological innovation in agriculture will be crucial.
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