Agricultural Sector vital development tool for achieving Millennium Development Goal: World Development Report
The report Titled Agriculture for Development was launched recently by the World Bank via video conference from its PNG office shares that it is the first time in two decades that the WDR is focusing on agriculture.
The report says that agricultural and rural sectors have suffered from neglect and underinvestment over the past 20 years. The report advocates a new "agriculture for development" agenda.
Lead author of the report for the World Bank and Senior Advisor, Mr. Derek Byerlee presented its main findings, and says that agriculture is a vital development tool for achieving the Millennium Development Goal that calls for halving by 2015 the share of people suffering from extreme poverty and hunger. Three out of every four poor people in developing countries live in rural areas, and most of them depend directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihoods.
Mr Byerlee says that the report provided guidance to governments and the international community on designing and implementing agriculture-for-development agendas that can make a difference in the lives of hundreds of millions of rural poor. Other findings in way of challenges include:
While 75 percent of the world’s poor live in rural areas in developing countries, a mere 4 percent of official development assistance goes to agriculture.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, a region heavily reliant on agriculture for overall growth, public spending for farming is also only 4 percent of total government spending and the sector is still taxed at relatively high levels.
For the poorest people, GDP growth originating in agriculture is about four times more effective in raising incomes of extremely poor people than GDP growth originating outside the sector.
The report says that “today, rapidly expanding domestic and global markets; institutional innovations in markets, finance, and collective action; and revolutions in biotechnology and information technology all offer exciting opportunities to use agriculture to promote development. But seizing these opportunities will require the political will to move forward with reforms that improve the governance of agriculture.
Discussion among the Pacific regional participants indicated that the report was timely and that greater efforts be placed in the implementation of plans which includes marketing, increasing product value and keeping the farmers interested in farming.
Participating in the launch were USP, represented by staff and students, and Fiji’s agricultural officers as well as agricultural researchers and consultants; World Bank Sydney, ANU, Vanuatu and Timor Leste.
A full report can be downloaded from the link: http://www.worldbank.org/wdr2008