The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has launched a new phase of its key agricultural policy monitoring and analysis initiative, focused on supporting reforms in eight sub-Saharan African countries, as they face an array of global challenges.
This will be Phase 3 of the Monitoring and Analysing Food and Agricultural Policies (MAFAP) programme which will also cover Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda and Uganda, and is set to continue working to support the countries in making more informed, evidence-based policy and investment decisions.
The global agency has already secured an $11 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Among its key goals are identifying priority areas for scaling up investment, achieving more transparent markets and trade, inclusive rural transformation and more nutritious agrifood systems.
The programme has become even more crucial as governments grapple with tighter budgets in the wake of COVID-19 and the impact of the war in Ukraine and seek data-driven ways to guide their reforms towards inclusive agricultural transformation and economic recovery.
“Global agricultural markets are becoming increasingly disrupted, leading to price spikes in food, energy and increasing fertilizer prices, that not only hurt farmers and producers but also consumers and families, because of the lack of capacity to access food,” FAO Chief Economist, Máximo Torero Cullen, said in his remarks at the launch.
To avoid a food crisis, he said: “We must monitor what is happening and react with timely policies. We need double-dimension action: short-term to respond to these shocks, and medium to long-term to achieve the 2030 United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). MAFAP is a highly effective tool to help countries to do that.”
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The MAFAP programme has run for more than a decade, helping to bring about over 20 important policy reforms across sub-Saharan Africa. The latest five-year phase is being launched with the support of an $11 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has been a longtime donor to MAFAP alongside previous donors, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Governments of Germany and The Netherlands.
The FAO Chief Economist noted that the launch comes amid growing focus on policy monitoring and repurposing, meaning the redirection of support for agricultural producers which in many cases hinders the transformation towards healthier, more sustainable and equitable agrifood systems.
This follows on from last year’s UN Food Systems Summit and a landmark report by FAO, UNEP and UNDP on repurposing agricultural support for food systems transformation. To support the new phase, FAO has developed new policy tools and advanced economic modelling to help governments.
These include determining if budgets on food and agriculture are optimally spent to ensure food security and nutrition, boost economic growth and speed up inclusive agricultural transformation, as well as better understanding how national policies affect the prices of commodities or products along the value chain.
Others are to prioritise the policies and investments that have the largest positive effects on poverty reduction, employment, agricultural growth and the affordability of healthy diets, identify and assess policy options for reform, and successfully implement policy changes.
“This new phase of the programme relies on state-of-the-art policy modelling tools that FAO has developed and are well documented in highly reputed international journals to ensure quality control, transparency and replicability,” said FAO Deputy Director of Agrifood Economics, Marco V. Sánchez.
MAFAP engages and partners with governments and stakeholders, such as farmers and agribusiness representatives, research organisations, civil society and development partners, throughout the policy cycle – from agenda setting, through analysis of policy options to policy adoption.
Once the policy has been adopted, MAFAP provides technical support with the implementation, helping to prioritize resource allocation, evaluate the effects of the new policy and provide governance advice.
Given the importance of this work, FAO will also continue to allocate its own resources to mainstreaming it within the organisation in order to support more countries.