Strategizing Investments to Maximize Agricultural Productivity
Although Africa has experienced significant growth in agricultural productivity since the 1980s, larger and more strategic investments are needed if countries are to reach CAADP goals in order to reduce poverty and increase food security. A new ReSAKSS Issue Note based on CAADP M&E 2011 Report identifies the options for raising and maintaining agricultural productivity across the continent. Current trends show that for many African countries, increases in agricultural productivity can be attributed to a greater share of land allocated to agricultural production rather than technical changes. The share of public agriculture investments out of total public investments on average are still well below the CAADP target of 10 percent. Technological advancements must be increased to improve agricultural productivity and governments must make larger investments in areas that have a greater potential for long-term benefits, such as agricultural research and development.
Greater regional collaboration could facilitate knowledge and technology spillover. In addition, the effectiveness of agricultural investments could be improved through more location-specific programs and policies that take into account the diversity of farmers and differing impacts of certain types of spending.
At the country level, a study in Rwanda shows which factors affect the likelihood that farmers will adopt certain agricultural technologies, indicating where investments should be targeted to maximize impact. The study used soil testing and fertilizer use as measures of agricultural technology and analyzed the adoption patterns of farmers in different areas. The results show that younger, wealthier, and better-educated farmers on less fragmented farms are more likely to adopt technologies. Investments targeting farmers with these characteristics as well as policies that promote the consolidation of land could lead to short-term gains in agricultural productivity, while improving agricultural education and access to services and credit facilities among resource-poor farmers is necessary to ensure long-term benefits. This case and similar studies are important indicators of the types of strategies that will be most effective for increasing agricultural productivity.