small scale farmers agro summitIn the preface of The African Transformation Report 2017: Agriculture Powering Africa’s Economic Transformation, Yaw Ansu Chief Economist at ACET highlights how agriculture can lead economic transformation in many countries in Africa—if farm productivity is raised and farming is linked to manufacturing and other sectors of the economy through agroprocessing, other agriculture-based manufacturing, and finance, logistics, and other upstream and downstream services

 We refer to this process—of raising productivity on farms and strengthening linkages between farms and the rest of the economy—as agricultural transformation.

The 2014 African Transformation Report—Growth with Depth—highlighted the need to convert economic growth driven by commodities and macroeconomic reforms into growth that is structurally grounded and
therefore job creating, welfare improving, and sustainable.
That report called on African governments to work with the private sector to transform their economies by diversifying production and exports, becoming more competitive globally, boosting productivity across the
economy, upgrading production technologies and national technological capabilities, and advancing human well-being through rapid job growth. The pertinence of these recommendations has been reinforced by the collapse of commodity prices (particularly oil and minerals) since mid-2014 and the consequent slowdown in economic growth in many parts of Africa. As African policymakers respond to this collapse by intensifying
efforts toward economic transformation, this second African Transformation Report—Agriculture
Powering Africa’s Economic Transformation—highlights the immense contributions that agriculture can make and offers practical examples, lessons, and recommendations.

- Chapter 1 presents a data-rich assessment of the state of agriculture in Africa, its impact on macroeconomic outcomes, and its performance in the recent past.

- Chapter 2 discusses land tenure systems, focusing on feasible reforms that could enable the customary tenure systems that prevail in many parts of the continent to better support modern commercial agriculture.

Chapter 3 examines how to raise farm productivity by improving farmers’ access to knowledge, modern inputs (mainly improved seeds and fertilizer), irrigation, and

- Chapter 4 looks at how to commercialise agriculture and covers risks, markets, and finance (including insurance). Chapter 5 pulls together the themes from chapters 2–4 to focus on the specific goal of growing enough of Africa’s key food staples to feed households and support an expanding agroprocessing industry.

Chapter 6 considers how to leverage agriculture to develop manufacturing, particularly agroprocessing and the manufacturing of agricultural inputs.

Chapter 7 reflects on the possible employment impacts of agricultural transformation, focusing on employment possibilities for educated youth in farming and in the off-far segments of agricultural value chains.

Chapter 8 considers how to ensure gender equity in agricultural transformation, and chapter 9 proposes ways to ensure that the transformation is environmentally friendly against a backdrop of climate change.

Throughout, the discussion draws attention to the importance of prudent macroeconomic policy to agricultural transformation through the impact of fiscal and monetary policies on interest rates and credit and of exchange
rate and trade policies on the reliable availability of fertilisers and on farmers’ ability to compete with imports and in export markets.

Yaw Ansu Chief Economist

The full report can be read here: