Governments in Africa spend less than seven per cent of their national budgets on agriculture despite 75 per cent of poor people living in rural areas, finds a new report by ActionAid.
The report Fertile Ground presents compelling evidence that more support for smallholder agriculture and particularly women farmers is desperately needed if hunger is to be halved by 2015, the world’s anti-hunger target.
Women farmers are being neglected
Melissa Hall, ActionAid policy officer, said: “Women and smallholder farmers are responsible for the vast majority of food grown in Africa but they’re being shamefully neglected by governments and donors alike in the fight against hunger.
“Donors keep talking about the importance of women farmers and their contribution to ending hunger and poverty, but when it comes to real action, the evidence is that women farmers are ignored.”
ActionAid’s report confirms evidence that investment and growth in agriculture can make twice the impact on poverty as growth in other sectors.However, less than one per cent of agricultural spending in three representative countries investigated in depth by ActionAid – Kenya, Malawi and Uganda – is targeted specifically at women farmers, despite their key role as food producers in those countries and across the continent.
Not enough spending on agriculture
The report says that donors are also not spending enough on agriculture.
Donor aid to agriculture has fallen to four per cent of all aid to Africa and donors themselves estimate that as little as 10 per cent of all agricultural aid goes to women farmers.
Aid makes up 28 per cent of agriculture spending by sub-Saharan African governments but remains highly unpredictable. Less than half is delivered on time which presents particular problems in the seasonal agriculture sector.
At the UN Millennium Review Summit later this year, ActionAid will call on governments and donors to commit to scaling up support to smallholder farmers by at least US$40 million per year.
ActionAid is also calling on the World Bank, which is about to launch a global Trust Fund for Agriculture and Food Security in Washington on Thursday, to ring fence the $2 billion fund for small famers only, rather than channel it into commercial agriculture.
Melisa Hall concluded: “Governments and donors must focus on the things that will help poor and women farmers the most - rural credit, agricultural research and inputs, and training designed to help smallholder farmers.”