The challenge

Food security remains a major challenge worldwide, notwithstanding the progress made in recent years. In Africa alone, some one in four people are still undernourished1.

To effectively tackle food insecurity, particularly in Africa, structural agricultural transformation is essential. Accordingly, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) was established in 2003 by the Assembly of the African Union to enhance food security through sustainable agricultural development at the continental, regional and national levels. 

CAADP thus far has played a significant role in raising overall awareness of the centrality of the agricultural sector for African food security, economic growth and poverty reduction. In some countries and regions, CAADP has brought about more inclusive policymaking, better coordination between sectors and improved donor coordination within the agricultural sector.

Nonetheless, CAADP’s overall implementation results remain mixed. At the national level, progress seems to be hindered by the low priority given by African governments to agricultural transformation and food security. Ten years ago, African Heads of State set out their ambitious objective of revitalising the agricultural sector and addressing food insecurity. That included the commitment to allocate at least 10% of national product to CAADP and associated agricultural flagship projects. Few governments, however, have met this target. At the international level, too, development partners have struggled to adopt coherent and effective cooperation approaches in relation to food security and transformation of agricultural markets. EU support to smallholder agricultural development, for instance, remains hampered, directly or indirectly, by measures taken in other areas of EU policy.

CAADP marked its tenth anniversary in 2013. With this milestone came renewed commitment from many stakeholders to speed up the process of achieving the programme’s goals. In parallel, regional initiatives to tackle food insecurity in Africa gained momentum, particularly formulation of regional agricultural policies and investment plans under CAADP. 
The real challenge for Africa in the years to come will be to truly advance agricultural transformation and boost food security. African leaders need to increase their efforts towards food security and provide their domestic agricultural sectors with the means to become a motor for sustainable and inclusive development. In this, regional integration should play a key role, as local and national markets alone are too small to bring about the required agricultural transformation. Stronger linkages are needed between agricultural policy and policy areas such as trade and natural resources management, and between public, private and civil society actors. Finally, in order to effectively support food security and the sustainable transformation of agricultural markets, stronger coherence and coordination are needed among development interventions.

"Working for food security in Africa nowadays means supporting CAADP. Impact on the ground remains mixed, but CAADP is a solid institutional framework, leading to more transparency on policies, non-state actor involvement, and coordination of development partners. Now CAADP needs to be more results-oriented, better reflecting the private sector dynamism in African agriculture and strengthening the integration of regional markets."

Francesco Rampa, Head of the Food Security programme (pictured)     

ECDPM's role

ECDPM’s Food Security programme supports regional organisations and processes, particularly in Africa, in formulating effective regional agricultural policies and investment plans. We assist development partners, especially the EU, in adopting coherent and effective approaches that foster thriving agricultural markets and promote food security. We realise this by promoting and facilitating policy dialogues and processes and by building bridges between different policy domains and levels. We strategically engage with a broad range of African, European and other global actors and institutions. In 2013, we focused on three streams of work: 
  • Supporting African regional food security processes
  • Reinforcing development partners’ approaches to food insecurity
  • Contributing new thematic insights on food and nutrition security and agricultural development
Supporting African regional food security processes

ECDPM worked closely with Regional Economic Communities in 2013. We supported participatory processes to formulate effective regional agricultural policies and investment plans under CAADP, particularly in COMESA (East and Southern Africa), ECCAS (Central Africa) and SADC (Southern Africa). African partners, including the AU Commission and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), frequently asked us to provide technical inputs and to facilitate consultative meetings with development partners and farmers’ organisations.

In West Africa, we worked with the Network of Farmers' and Agricultural Producers' Organisations of West Africa (ROPPA) and with local researchers to analyse the region’s progress towards the CAADP goals. Ten country studies were conducted and discussed at a multi-stakeholder regional conference in Monrovia. ROPPA subsequently presented the outcomes of this conference to the ECOWAS Ministers of Agriculture. As such, the Centre contributed to the constructive and evidence-based involvement of smallholders in regional-level policymaking. 

We conducted an analysis of the ECOWAS common external tariff. The findings were published in a paper, setting out the relationship between West Africa’s efforts towards closer regional economic integration and its vision on achieving food security and food sovereignty, as outlined in the region’s agricultural policy, the ECOWAP. With this research, the Centre contributed to bridge the divide between policy on trade and that on agriculture.

Reinforcing development partners' approaches to food insecurity

ECDPM engaged with the EU on policy coherence for food security. We analysed in how far the European Union's commitments and institutional mechanisms for policy coherence for development (PCD) have supported its development objectives in the area of global food security. We also contributed to the OECD  (the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development) and EU commitment to step up PCD monitoring and dialogue with third countries. Together with colleagues in ECDPM’s Strengthening European External Action programme, we developed a first methodology to assess the impact of a range of OECD member state policies on food security in individual partner countries. Our work on the methodology drew the interest of Finland and Switzerland, which intend to fund and actively engage in country pilots to test and further refine the methodology in 2014.

"We consider the cooperation between the OECD, ECDPM and Tanzania on this methodology pilot very crucial, because the pilot study will provide the evidence that policy makers need. We cannot ask politicians to discuss policy coherence or policy incoherence if we do not have the ammunition for that."
Hanna Rinkineva, Deputy Director of Development Policy and Planning, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland2 

ECDPM worked with development partners to increase the effectiveness of their support to CAADP. We provided regular inputs to the CAADP Development Partners Task Team that coordinates CAADP support at headquarters’ level. Furthermore, we contributed to a retreat organised by the World Bank in Maastricht on future financing options for CAADP and promoting increased private investment in agriculture. In recognition of ECDPM’s knowledge brokering and facilitation role, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) asked us to conduct an independent assessment of the €50 million CAADP Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF), a key channel for CAADP support to continental and regional institutions. Our assessment was published in early 2014 and will inform the renewal of the Fund (MDTF II).

“We are happy that ECDPM will be conducting this assessment for DFID as we think nobody has followed the CAADP process, especially regional level processes, like you.”
Sam Kanyarukiga, CAADP Coordinator of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Secretariat

Finally, we continued our collaboration with the Planning and Coordinating Agency of NEPAD, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NPCA), to strengthen its coordination and support role in CAADP implementation. At the Agency’s request, ECDPM and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation(CTA) sought ways to optimise and link knowledge management systems among the Regional Economic Communities in Africa.

Contributing new thematic insights on food and nutrition security and agricultural development

Building on our knowledge of the CAADP processes, we made valuable contributions to African, European and global policy debates in a number of niche areas. Through targeted publications and facilitation of events, we expanded our activities related to the role of emerging economies and the private sector in African agriculture, as well as the links between nutrition and agriculture.

Our study on multi-stakeholder partnerships for nutrition security highlighted the role of regional efforts, particularly of CAADP. This study generated a lot of interest and led to our subsequent facilitation of an informal policy dialogue organised in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and involving participants from both the public and the private sector.

Building on activities in 2012, we published a series of papers providing insights on how the activities of emerging economies in the African agriculture sector relate to CAADP. The papers, furthermore, explore room for improved coherence and possible linkages between the food security approaches of traditional development partners and emerging economies. In this same vein, ECDPM facilitated an informal policy dialogue in Brussels on sustainable agricultural investments, bringing together stakeholders from Africa, Europe and China.

“Thank you again for organising this very interesting meeting. I have attended quite a number of international meetings on China-Africa issues and this is the first one where all participants showed respect to each other, did not accuse each other and were jointly thinking about solutions. This had so much to do with the atmosphere ECDPM created.”
Sanne van der Lugt, Associate at the African Studies Centre

In collaboration with the European NGO network APRODEV (the Association of World Council of Churches related Development Organisations in Europe), ECDPM organised a roundtable in Brussels on existing ‘mainstream’ and alternative approaches to agricultural development. This event was also designed to inform CAADP. Its focus was on land and water management, seeds, participatory research and family farming. Building on this dialogue, we published a thematic issue of ECDPM’s GREAT insights magazine on family farming and food security. At the AU’s request, printed copies of the magazine were distributed at the AU Summit in January 2014, which was organised around the theme of transforming Africa’s agriculture. This brought ECDPM increased recognition as an actor in international food security debates.

1) FAO. 2013. The state of food insecurity in the world 2013: The multiple dimensions of food security. Rome: FAO.
2) Interview by the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development