Policy Coherence in Agriculture and Rural Development

The Global Donor Platform for Rural Development has released a study on policy coherence within the field of Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) “Platform Knowledge Piece 1: Policy Coherence for Agriculture and Rural Development”.

The report explores the need for policy coherence to make sure that policies for development do not contradict one another but rather complement each other, creating synergies. This is importnant, the report says, as:

“In the absence of clear guildelines, policies and programmes proliferate. Some potentially compete, duplicate and overlap one another, leading to waste and loss. This is exacerbated by the tendency for new policies and programmes to emerge while older ones are not always clearly retired.”

Within the report, the authors talk about the particular challenges of ensuring policy coherence for ARD. They highlight three aspects that distinguish ARD:

–       Agriculture and most rural enterprises are carried out by private enterprises, most of which are small and dispersed over large areas, sometimes with little access to ports and cities. This means more technical uncertainly than other sectors, and a higher risk of market failures when interacting with others in the supply chain

–       A wide range of objectives are commonly invested in ARD – economic growth; export earnings; poverty; employment; gender equality; food and nutrition security; conservation; and regional equity

–       Political support for agriculture is often weak and unfocussed. Responsibilities for providing the public goods and services to support agriculture tend to be spread over several ministries and agencies, and may well not be providing the more important and costly public goods such as rural roads, education, and clean water.

As well as the three challenges highlighted above, the authors say that there is the expectation that ARD policy will serve multiple objectives. Factoring in limited administrative capacity in many developing countries leaves us with inconsistent and contradictory policy, which will need sustained interest and effort in order to be aligned and coherent.

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