Harmonising trade and agricultural policy in Africa

Improved trade for farmers and agribusinesses in Africa’s least developed countries could stimulate economic development and improve food security in these regions. Aligning trade and farming policies can, however, be challenging, and policy incoherence between the two sectors negatively impacts value chain development and farmer prosperity.

A recent FAO publication, Policy coherence for agricultural transformation in African least developed countries (LDCs): Aligning agriculture and trade policymaking processes, defines policy coherence as the “systematic promotion of mutually reinforcing policy actions across government departments and agencies.” The report argues that, in the context of African food security, policy cohesion is ensuring that government trade policies do not undermine government agricultural policies and vice versa.

As outlined in the report, one clear example of policy incoherence is in facilitating stronger market linkages between producers and local buyers. With agricultural ministries focusing on improving productivity at the farm level, and trade ministries regarding exports as a priority area, local trade can get ignored. In order to facilitate smallholders’ access to regional markets, the publication suggests that mutual recognition of trading standards at the local level are needed. This can be achieved through better coordination between the two sectors and their coordination with the national statistics authorities – to ensure that data regarding, for instance, agricultural production rates, market prices and stocks, is consistent across the ministries for policymaking.

Policy coherence for agricultural transformation in African least developed countries (LDCs): Aligning agriculture and trade policymaking processes
FAO & ECDPM, 2018; 25 pp.
ISBN 978-92-5130-679-6