Derek Byerlee, Rural Policy and Strategy Advisor and Co-director, World Development Report team, World Bank
Irina Klytchnikova, Young Professional and WDR co-author, World Bank
Amdissa Teshome, Future Agricultures Consortium
Diana Hunt, University of Sussex
Christie Peacock, FARM-Africa
Simon Maxwell, Director, ODI
1. Simon Maxwell, in the chair, thanked the audience for coming.
2. Irina Klytchnikova opened her part of the World Bank's presentation by stressing the importance of recognising the many and heterogeneous roles that agriculture plays. The way that agriculture contributes to development depends on how a country uses agriculture as a source of growth and as an instrument for poverty reduction.
3. She thus categorised countries according to the share of agriculture which constitutes aggregate growth:
- Agriculture-based countries
- Transforming countries
- Urbanised countries
4. She further outlined ways in which agriculture contributes to development by:
- Acting as the lead sector for overall growth in agriculture-based countries
- Lowering food prices
- Reducing poverty: GDP growth originating in agriculture is two to four times more effective for poverty reduction compared to non-agriculture based growth
- As a way of managing natural resources
5. Klytchnikova also noted:
- The policy challenge of rising rural-urban inequality, especially in China
- The growth of high value markets, such as meat and horticulture
- Technological innovations - which suggest there has been progress, but under-investment
- Institutional innovations, such as weather and price risk insurance in Malawi
6. In his part of the presentation, Derek Byerlee argued that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) can only be met if greater priority is given to agriculture.
7. He then went on to highlighted the following challenges:
- Global trade distortions remain pervasive, suppressing real international commodity prices and causing trade share losses to developing countries
- Increasing land and water constraints
- Connecting small-holders to new markets
- Improving the assets of the poor, especially women
- Investment -
o Agriculture-based countries spend too little on agriculture, particularly on research and development
o Misinvestment is pervasive - e.g. in India, money goes to wealthy farmers
o The proportion of ODA directed at agriculture has declined from 11% in 1990 to 4% in 2004
- Improving governance is important to implement the 'agriculture-for-development' agenda, however:
o The state is often weakest in the poorest countries
o Agriculture ministries are relatively weak, in comparison with other ministries
8. Byerlee then outlined the four key policy objectives:
- Improved market access
- Enhanced small-holder competitiveness
- Improved livelihoods in subsistence agriculture and low-skill rural occupations
- Increased employment in agriculture and the rural non-farm economy
9. He then made 7 further recommendations:
- Doha must progress
- Access to financial services must be improved
- Subsidies can be used effectively
- GMOs have unrealised potential for the poor
- Intellectual property rights (IPRs) must be tailored to be country and commodity specific
- Biofuels are important but more sustainable methods are required
- Climate change adaptation requires urgent action
Discussant 1: Amdissa Teshome, Future Agricultures Consortium
10. Amdissa Teshome made the following points:
- Agriculture is on the agenda, albeit only currently in the form of 'lip-service'
- Education is used as a method by which to get out of agriculture and as a result agriculture suffers from a 'brain drain'
- In 25 years' time, a lower proportion of people will be dependent on agriculture, thus agricultural transformation is required to support this change
Discussant 2: Diana Hunt, University of Sussex
11. Diana Hunt commended the report's recognition of the importance of trade and research and development, but was otherwise disappointed:
- The report tries to cover too much. It should have instead consisted of a broad overview and then concentrated on what is considered to be the most important issue, e.g. agricultural marketing
- The report did not adequately address some of the marketing problems faced by small-holders
- In addition, the report's did not address the fiscal implications of government-awarded grants for small farmers
Discussant 3: Christie Peacock, FARM-Africa
12. Christie Peacock commented that the report calls for greater investment but does not offer any suggestions as to how to spend the money. She recommended that the authors think what three key points they would highlight.
13. Comments and questions from the audience included:
- Are there poverty traps in remote areas?
- Is there agricultural growth in Africa? If so, what kind, and do we accept the FAO statistics?
- Issues around bio-safety with regard to GMOs
- Recognition of agriculture's heterogeneity should have been given greater attention, e.g. the importance of agriculture in mineral-rich countries
- The Report pays insufficient attention to:
o Improving working conditions
o Land tenure issues
o Solutions for subsistence farmers - the report tends to focus on commercially organised small-holders only
- The Report is biased, what about the Via Campesina answer?
At this event, a team from the World Bank presented the World Development Report 2008, Agriculture for Development, which focused on agriculture for the first time in 25 years.