Workshop on Agricultural Transformation in Africa: Abidjan, Côte D'Ivoire, September 26-29, 1995
April 1, 1999 - Author: Moussa Batchily Ba, John M. Staatz, Laura Farrelly, Youssouf Camara, and Georges Dimithè
IDWP 75. Moussa Batchily Ba, John M. Staatz, Laura Farrelly, Youssouf Camara, and Georges Dimithè. 1999. 23pp. Workshop on Agricultural Transformation in Africa: Abidjan, Côte D'Ivoire, September 26-29, 1995
As Africa approaches the new millennium, throughout the continent there is an emerging need to
create an environment that enables members of civil society to contribute fully to sustainable
economic and social development. As many countries move away from the model in which the
state tried to do everything, it is clear that there needs to be much broader participation of various
actors in the development process. This transition to a more participatory approach, which is
taking place at different speeds depending on national, regional, and international conditions, can
only occur if there is a rethinking of development approaches in all areas, but particularly with
respect to agriculture.
At the initiative of USAID, the ADB, MSU, and INSAH, 40 researchers, policy makers and
private-sector entrepreneurs from 19 countries, representing 20 African and international
organizations, met in Abidjan for a continent-wide workshop to debate issues related to
transformation of African agriculture. This meeting was hosted by the Ministry of Higher
Education and Scientific Research of Côte d’Ivoire.
The Abidjan workshop built on previous discussions organized by Winrock International, the
World Bank, USAID (AFR/SD/PSGE/FSP) and IFPRI concerning the key challenges (food
insecurity, poverty, and environmental degradation) that need to be addressed while fostering a
structural transformation of African agriculture. In 1992, Winrock International held a seminar in
Baltimore, financed by USAID (AFR/ARTS), to examine these questions. A large number of
North American analysts participated in this meeting. One of the principal conclusions was that
there existed appropriate agricultural technologies already “on the shelf” that would allow African
agriculture to grow at 4% annually, but that the adoption of these technologies was often
hindered by unfavorable macroeconomic and sectoral policies. At that time, World Bank analysts
had argued that a 4% agricultural growth rate was needed to stimulate fast enough overall
economic growth to allow meaningful increases in real income and a reduction in poverty.
In 1993, USAID (AFR/SD/PSGE/FSP) hosted a workshop in Harare that brought together a
group of African analysts to examine these same problems. The Harare group, less convinced of
the widespread availability of appropriate technologies for all regions of Africa, raised the issue of
the potential serious negative effects of structural adjustment programs on African agriculture.
The workshop participants in Harare therefore recommended that USAID: (1) commission
specific studies on the impact of agricultural policy reforms in various African countries, (2)
encourage more attention be given to the development and promotion of agricultural technologies
appropriate for specific agro-climatic zones, and (3) foster a re-examination of the relationships
between the NARS and the CGIAR in order to assure that the technologies developed in the
international research centers are adapted to the specific needs of different localities in Africa.
The recommendations of the Harare workshop served as the starting point for the workshop in
Abidjan. The organizers commissioned papers on the recent experiences with agricultural
transformation in Zambia, South Africa, Malawi, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, and the Sahelian
countries. The Abidjan workshop also drew on the results of a workshop organized in Senegal in
December 1994 by IFPRI, which examined the difficulties encountered in the elaboration of longterm
agricultural development strategies in Africa.
The Abidjan workshop attempted to go beyond these previous meetings by concentrating on
identifying the specific investments and policies that African governments, firms, and international
organizations and donors could undertake in the short and medium term to encourage sustainable
economic and agricultural transformation. The challenge was to identify specific ways in which
to foster the structural transformation of agriculture in African countries. This transformation
would then stimulate broad-based economic growth while at the same time assuring
improvements in food security, poverty reduction and environmental protection.