AFRICA – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has received US$11m in grant financing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to launched a new phase of its key agricultural policy monitoring and analysis initiative.

 Phase 3 of the Monitoring and Analysing Food and Agricultural Policies (MAFAP) programme, is set to focus on supporting reforms in eight Sub-Saharan African countries, as they face an array of global challenges.

Covering Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda, it will continue to support the countries make more informed, evidence-based policy and investment decisions.

MAFAP engages and partners with governments and stakeholders, such as farmers and agribusiness representatives, research organizations, 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 also allocates its own resources to mainstreaming it within the organization in order to support more countries.

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.

Timely launch of the new phase

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.

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 UN Sustainable Development Goals. MAFAP is a highly effective tool to help countries to do that.”

To support the new phase, FAO has developed new policy tools and advanced economic modelling to help governments determine if budgets on food and agriculture are optimally spent to ensure food security and nutrition, boost economic growth and speed up inclusive agricultural transformation.

Also, it seeks to bring clarity on how national policies affect the prices of commodities or products along the value chain.

Further to that it will prioritize the policies and investments that have the largest positive effects on poverty reduction, employment, agricultural growth and the affordability of healthy diets.

It will also 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.

The MAFAP programme has run for more than a decade, helping to bring about over 20 important policy reforms across sub-Saharan Africa.

This latest five-year phase is has also received support from alongside the United States Agency for International Development, and the Governments of the Germany and the Netherlands.

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