Report: Ethiopia commits over 10% of budget to agriculture

A report on the progress and the implementation of the target of the Maputo African Union Commitment in 2003 placed Ethiopia, as one of the four countries with Niger, Malawi and Cape Verde, that invested 10 percent or more of their budget on the Agriculture sector. The country is said to be on track to achieve one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) of halving extreme poverty, by the end of 2015.  
African leaders made a bold move by investing 10 percent of the national budget on agriculture to raise agricultural growth to 6 percent by 2008 at the African Union (AU) summit held in Maputo in July 2003.  As a result, donors also made commitments to contribute to African sustainable agriculture, food security and nutrition programs, with a pledge of USD 22 billion for three years at the 2009 G8 summit held in L’Aquila, Italy. On top of that, they committed themselves to deliver a more effective and strategic assistance, including investments in country-led plans and providing predictable long-term financing and strategic coordination.
According to a report entitled ‘A Growing Opportunity: Measuring Investments in African Agriculture’ and conducted by ONE to assess progress and remaining challenges of the Maputo target, commitments have translated into tangible gains. “Eight out of 19 countries with agriculture investment plans that we assessed in this report are on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1(a) of halving extreme poverty by 2015,’ states the report. “Thirteen of the 15 countries with available data have achieved annual agriculture growth of 6 percent or more.”  The report acknowledged that African leaders, with support from donors, are realizing the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) momentum which was a fruit of the Maputo pledges in 2003. 
For example, the Ethiopian government spent USD 1.2 billion or 19.7 percent of total government expenditure on the agriculture sector in 2011. Between 2003 and 2009, the country has spent an average of 13.7 percent of the budget on agriculture. “This follows historically strong commitments to the agriculture sector (averaging roughly 15 percent in the 2000s),” said the report. Budgetary funding distribution is broadly aligned with the national agriculture plan, which was developed through the CAADP process.
Konjit Sinegiorghis, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the AU and UNECA, said at a launching ceremony of the report  “… my country-Ethiopia is one of the four countries which already have met or even exceeded the Maputo target.” She said her country attaches paramount importance to the transformation of the agricultural sector as part of our development strategy and it has been allocating some 15 percent or more of the national budget to the sector over the last decade.  “The agricultural sector in Ethiopia has been registering an average growth rate of 10 percent. That is improving the lives of millions of people. We managed to do so through long term planning, substantial and targeted financial investment, as well as institutional reorganization with a focus on constraints affecting small hold farmers”.
Rhoda Peace, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Economy at the AU, who appreciated the report as it was independently undertaken and aligned with the AU’s findings, said that Ethiopia is doing well as it is meeting a number of elements of the objectives for agriculture. “Of course there are challenges especially with regards to meeting other MDG areas, but still, Ethiopia is committed and we appreciate how much Ethiopia has been able to do,” said the commissioner. 
Besides the achievements registered, the report revealed that the financing commitments are off track with only four of the 19 African countries examined, meeting the target of spending 10 percent of their national budget on the agriculture sector. The report claimed that the funding gaps amount to a USD 4.4 billion shortfall in 2011 in the 19 countries alone. “Seven countries are seriously off track, with less than 5 percent of total expenditure on the agriculture sector. In fact, these seven countries have actually lowered their agriculture expenditure,” the report exposed and recommended that African leaders, in partnership with donors, must fill the gaps with a sense of urgency.
Other facts included in the report are donors’ support for CAADP, country-led plans being limited, insufficiency of transparency in all countries examined, limited participation of non-state actors, lack of clear focus on women farmers and marginal emphasis on nutrition. The report said, “Collectively, donors have legally obligated the entire USD 22 billion pledge for the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI). However, only half of the pledged AFSI financial commitments have been disbursed.”
Konjit is hopeful that the report, launched at a time when celebrating the 50 year Anniversary of the OAU/AU and the 10 years since AU member states decided to make serious commitments in Maputo, will contribute, in terms of sensitizing countries, to confer more priority on the agricultural sector to improve the plight of our people.

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