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Sector-based approaches in agriculture

Research reports

This study provides an overview of sector‐based approaches (SWAps) in agriculture. It reviews past
experience, identifies opportunities and challenges arising in the current setting and discusses future options for developing the approach. The study analyses performance of agricultural SWAps on the basis of an assessment framework establishing a chain of sequential links between inputs of the cooperation arrangement and its outputs, outcomes and impact. It concludes that overall performance of agriculture SWAps has been, at best, mixed and it confirms many findings from early
experiences. Agricultural SWAps face today two additional challenges: (i) the general sense of fatigue in partner countries in relation to SWAps due to failure to see palpable results on the ground; and (ii) the continued proliferation of vertical funds associated with global and regional initiatives to support agriculture which threat to undermine the core SWAp principles of harmonisation, coordination and integrated sector policy framework. Yet, at the same time, the current setting seems favourable to the restoration and consolidation of sector‐based approaches in agriculture.
What are then the future options for sector‐based approaches? Despite their mixed record and the challenges faced, the fundamentals of the approach remain useful to the management of development assistance and to the pursuit of agriculture policy objectives. Stakeholder coordination and policy coherence are key to address persistent failures in agricultural investment, and government leadership is essential in a sector where market failures still abound. Country experiences have revealed however malpractices (resulting from a misuse of the approach’s principles) which need to be corrected if SWAps are to restore the ideal of creating a domestically‐owned integrated policy vision shared by all relevant stakeholders, allowing for better coordination of policies, investments and service delivery.

Lidia Cabral