Title Page
 Low-resource agriculture in Africa...
 Table of Contents
 Summary and options
 The African setting
 The role of Congress: Findings...
 Potential oversight issues

Title: Low-resource agriculture in Africa
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Title: Low-resource agriculture in Africa
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment
Publisher: U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment
Publication Date: 1987
Subject: Africa   ( lcsh )
Farming   ( lcsh )
Agriculture   ( lcsh )
Farm life   ( lcsh )
Spatial Coverage: Africa
Abstract: "This is a draft of an Office of Technology Assessment document. It is being made available solely for review purposes and should not he quoted, circulated, reproduced or represented as an official OTA document. The material is undergoing revision and should not be considered as final."
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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Title Page
    Low-resource agriculture in Africa advisory panel
        Page i
        Page ii
    Table of Contents
        Page iii
    Summary and options
        Page 1
    The African setting
        Page 2
        Page 2a
        Page 3
        The potential of low-resource agriculture
            Page 4
            Page 5
        A strategic approach to support low-resource agriculture
            Page 6
            Page 6a
            Page 6b
            Page 6c
            Page 7
            Page 8
            Page 9
            Page 10
        The role technology can play
            Page 11
            Page 12
            Page 13
            Page 13a
            Page 13b
        Implementation of a strategic approach to LRA
            Page 14
            Page 15
            Page 15a
            Page 16
            Page 17
            Page 18
    The role of Congress: Findings and options
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
    Potential oversight issues
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
Full Text

"-: J



Office of Technology Assessment
U.S. Congress

April 1987

This is a draft of an Office of Technology Assessment
document. It is being made available solely for
review purposes and should not he quoted, circulated,
reproduced or represented as an official OTA document.
The material is undergoing revision and should not be
considered as final.

- /F -Y

-7 r

Low-Resource Agriculture in Africa Advisory Panel

Mary B. Anderson, Chair
=Consultant in International Economic Development
Bridges Project, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Eugene Adams
Vice President for International Programs
Tuskegee University
Tuskegee, AL

Haidari Amani
Senior Lecturer
University of Dar-es-Salaam
Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania

Leonard Berry
Provost and Vice President for
Academic Affairs
Clark University
Worcester, MA

David Brokensha
Department of Anthropology
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA

Cornelia -Flora
Department of Sociology, Anthropology
and Social Work
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS

Jake Halliday
Battelle-Kettering Laboratory
Yellow Springs, OH

The Reverend Thomas Hayden*
Director Social Concerns Department
Society for African Missions
Washington, DC

Michael Horowitz
Resident and Director
Institute for Development Anthropology
Binghampton, NY

Goran Hyden
Department of Political Science
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL

Joseph Kennedy
Director of International Development
Washington, DC

David Leonard
Associate Professor
Department of Political Science
University of California
Berkeley, CA

Shem Migot-Adholla
Department of Sociology
Institute of Development Studies
University of Nairobi
Nairobi, KENYA

Elliot Morss*
Acting Director
Center for Asian Development Studies
Boston University
Boston, MA

* Resigned as of June 24, 1986.

Low-Resource Agriculture in Africa
OTA Project Page

Phyllis N. Windle, Project Director

Analytical Staff for the Final Report

J. Kathy Parker, Analyst
Bruce Horwith,'Analyst
Ted MacDonald, Analyst
Allen Ruby, Research Analyst
Chris Elfring, Editor

Additional Analytical Staff for Special Report

George Scharffenberger, Contractor
Kathy Desmond, Contractor

Administrative Staff

Beckie Erickson, Sally Shafroth,* Administrative Assistant
Nellie Hammond, Secretary
Carolyn Swann, Secretary

Roger C. Herdman, Assistant Director, OTA
Health and Life Sciences Division

Walter E. Parham, Food and Renewable Resources Program Manager

* Until December 1986.

Table of Contents

Preface -

1. Summary and Options

Part I: The African Setting
2. :.Prologue
3. IThe Role and Potential of Low-Resource Agriculture

Part II: Principles of Low-Resource Agriculture and Guidelines for Its
4. :Principles for Improved Management of Natural Resources, More Productive
:Household Systems, and More Effective Institutions
5. -.The Role of Technology in the Potential of Low-Resource Agriculture

PartIII:. Promising Technologies for Improving
6. 7.Varieties and Livestock/Cropping Practices
-a. Crop Breeding
:'.b. Integrating Animal/Cropping Systems
c,.c- Intercropping
d. Agrofores try
.7. ..Improved Use of Soil and Water Resources
! a. Soil and Water Management
b. Improving Soil Fertility
ic. Small-scale irrigation
8. Improved Systems to Reduce Losses
:.a. Integrated Pest Management
,.b. Harvest and Post-harvest Technologies

Food Security

Part IV: Supporting the Development of Low-Resource Agriculture
9. :-A Strategic Approach for Improving Food Security
10. Implementing a Strategic Approach


Commissioned Papers
Workshop Participants
African Correspondents

Page 1

attitudes,.operation, and development-assistance practices. The Agency for

International Development (AID), as:che Lead U.S. development agency, would be

the-most important organization that would need.to make some changes to

successfully implement the low-resource agriculture focus. In the past, AID

has been constrained by a number of factors, including its reward system,

planning process, and organizational structure.

The African Setting

Africa faces a well-known litany of problems and feeding its growing

populations is one challenge among the many. "et when people in the developed

nations seek to help Africans face this challenge, they often underestimate

the impact of one crucial element: Africa is Africa. It is a continent o.f

tremendously varied cultures and environments, philosophically and

substantively different from the developed nations.

Although it can be dangerous to generalize, some common elements can be

seen in African agriculture. Generally, African agriculture is small-scale,

diverse, and dynamic. It depends principally on local knowledge and is highly

adapted to Local environments and cultures. Few outside inputs are used.

Women play a key role in oood production (Figure 2). Risk aversion while

striving to maximize yields is an important objective The approach may be

labor intensive, but other financial costs.are low. This approach is called

low-resource agriculture (LRA)** and it is the predominant type of agriculture

throughout Africa, although it can take greatly different forms in different

places. The people involved can be called Low resource agriculturalists.

Africa, as used in this report, refers to Sub-Saharan Africa (see fig. 1).

(To be added: Box 1. Description of different agencies' terminology)

SOURCE: Gowal Accowntng Office. "Afrtca AgIacutul Polclegs. A Mof Concrd Effort WIN Be Nemded If Refonm Is Expected." GAOMNSIAD044
Sept. 8. 13. (Ad1aptd hmr mampo Mariin Greenwe AssocI*at4s Inc.


They are farmers, fishers, and herders who coil at a very basic level and-yet

they often have:been ignored by policymakers both inside and outside of their

countries. The agriculturalists who work these systems are rural people,

often women, who are generally poor and who have limited access to and control-

over land, water, labor, capital, external sources of information and

technology, and external inputs such as commercial fertilizer. Within these

constraints, low-resource agriculturalists have responded both resourcefully

and flexibly to the challenges of growing food in Africa.

Individually, the contribution each low-resource agriculturalist makes to

the national economy is small; in total, however, they feed most of the

cc:.tinent.'s rural population. They developed their approach over time through

trial,and error, making them economically viable and ecologically sound within -

the African context. But the African context is changing rapidly no-., and LRA

systems are increasingly outdated. The traditional approaches simply cannot

meet the increasing demands of Africa's growing populations' and expectations.

iThus, one important question posed today is how to improve low-resource

agriculture. One necessary step is to improve our understanding of the low

resource agriculturalist's approach and accept it as a viable -- and actually

central component of Africa's strategy for food security. With better

understanding, the benefits of this.traditional approach can be blended wit

the merits of modern agriculture. The result could be a "hybrid" approach

that.combines modern-productivity with the best characteristics of traditional

agriculture and the realities of Africa.

Given the central role and potential of the low resource aericulturalist

in Africa, what questions arise !or U.S. Jeieiapmlent as:.sitaPt.*? AlthouAn it

will remain essential for Africa to progress on many fronts both within and

outside of the agricultural sector, it is clear that for the United States to.


successfully assist in Africa's development it will .have to support low-

resource agriculture. Current policy and technologies offer some good

potential,to help the low-resourcecagriculturalist; the key will be whether

Congress, the Agency for International Development, other development

organizations, and other actors in our Nation's foreign policy choose to

support this strategy for low-resource agriculture.

The Potential of Low-Resource Agriculture

What contribution do low-resource agriculturalists make to Africa's food

production now, and what can be expected in the future? According to USDA

data for eight sample countries, Low-resource agriculturalists produce the

majority of the continent's major food crops. They produce about 73 percent

of Africa's millet, 61 percent of the sorghum, 75 percent of the rice, and 96

percent of the continent's starchy staples. In addition, LRA represents the

'principle employer.in most African countries. Thus, the.potential contribu-

tions of an improved and intensified low-resource agriculture are great.':

Using few externally purchased resources, low-resource farmers and

herders have been surprisingly resourceful feeding most of the people :most

of the time in rural Africa, and providing an important buffer against famine

in some of the worst times. They also play a role in national economies.

Evidence suggests that in most-developing countries, small-scale agriculture

has some distinct advantages over Large scale, capital intensive agriculture

(Staacz, 1986). In general, small-scale agriculture:

Generates more empLoyment per unit of capital investment.

Is more economically efficient currently..

-5- -

S Generates a pattern of effective-demand for domestically produced

industrial products and services that is more conducive to

development in other sectors of the economy.

Past success is not enough. As Africa has changed, it has outpaced the

capabilities of traditional low-resource agriculturalists. Today, the

approach is not producing enough food in certain regions and projections for

the future are increasingly grim. In addition, as pressures to grow more food

increase the traditional systems are no longer able to work in harmony with

the environment. For instance, fallow periods are being shortened so serious

natural resource degradation is becoming more common and yield reductions are

occurring. Also, as it now exists low-resource agriculture is not a

successful approach for decreasing poverty or improving the quality of life in

a broader sense.

Food security is a critical goal in Africa. It means "access by all

people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. Its essential

elements are availability of food and ability to acquire it" (Reutliner and

Pellekaan, 1986). This means that people should have dependable, long-term

access to food through local -production, or through the power, to purchase food

via local, national, regional, or international markets. In spite of its

problems, African agriculture, especially low-resource agriculture, has

significant potential to make increased and substantial contributions to food

security and economic development in Africa. This optimism arises from two


1) the actual potentials of the natural resource base itself, and

2) examples of successful experimentation that have produced

3) potential of LRAists to change and experiment.

Supporting the potential to increase the productivity of the vast numbers

of low-resource agriculturalists in Africa could be.a key element in a

comprehensive development strategy. In addition to the potential :o improve

production by capitalizing on the natural potential of existing resources

(e.g., available lands, fish production, etc.), low-resource agriculture can

improveincome by reducing labor inputs and production costs. It also can be

designed to reduce energy costs, for example, through agroforestry. Research

advances, in particular, could help develop these potentials, at least in part

by striving to design "hybrid technologies" that combine local knowledge,

practices, and inputs with modern techniques.

It should be noted that it is difficult to look at this issue accurately

because a serious lack of data exists. This OTA analysis is a "best effort"

but is-necessarily flawed because of this data problem. This analysis should

be interpreted with an understanding of this built-in degree of uncertainty.

In addition, much of the data that does exist is conservative and reflects the

long-standing tendency to short-change the role of low-resource agriculture in

Africa-i. (See Box 2.)

A Strategic Approach to Support.Low-Resource Agriculture

Development assistance stands the best chance of success if the various

efforts.involved are coordinated into a cohesive strategy motivated by clear

goals and objectives. From its analysis. OTA has concluded that U.S.

development assistance to Afric: should include an .iproach r:u. su!.po;r:. -r.u

enhances the potential of Low-resource agriculture. The ultimate goal of this

strategic approach is to improve people's well-being in an equitable way and


SBox 2

What Do We Know

From the literature and experts,

lessons that we have learned:

o To increase food production

distribution systems, money

the following illustrate some of the

is not enough. There must be better

for purchase of food, etc.

o To increase inputs is not enough -. They must be appropriate, low

cost or lead to high return on investment, timely and come with

information on how to use them.

o To increase prices is not enough. There must be more knowledge,

more and more timely inputs, availability of credit, technologies

geared to take advantage of price incentives, etc.

o. To increase technology is not enough. Tractors may open new areas,

but they do not resolve issues of weeding new opened 'land or

harvesting increased production which often increases the drudgery

of women, nor do they resolve problems of transport, storage and

markets to handle produce from increased production.

o To increase production is not enough. If there are not enough

storage areas, processing capability, food will spoil.

o To increase technology is not enough. If they are not sustainable,

they will do more harm than good.

o To increase credit is not enough. If it is not available to the

major producer, i.e., women, then they do not reach a major segment

of the producer population. If there are no technologies, credit

used for investment in agricultural development will not be

necessary except for the other uses to which credit is applied,

e.g., education.

o To provide new hybrids is not enough. If they do not reduce the

risk of farmers and increase the stability of income they will not

be adopted.

o To increase production is not enough if the foods are not


o To use only new research knowledge is not enough. It is a waste of

centuries of acquired experience, experimentation and adaptation to

existing conditions.

o To invest in staple food production is not enough. There must be

income from cash crops to reduce foreign debt and to provide income

to farmers for the purchase of food.

o To increase cash crop production is not enough. Even if it provides

income, that income often goes to men and it is not necessarily used

to purchase-food which is the woman's re ponsibility.

o To provide low-resource technologies is not enough. They must be

-designed to reduce labor inputs, one of the major constraints to

agricultural production in Africa (especially seasonal). Also

returns to labor under LRA may be higher than those for. other

production systems, especially when considering how Ira reduces


o To develop low-resource agriculture is not enough. It is a starting

point. There is a need to increase efficient use of internal

resources, selectively use external resources, etc. Technologies

must evolve to meet changing. conditions of LRAists and agriculture.

o The Green Revolution as the answer to African food production is not

enough. There needs to be an improved range of options, including

Green Revolution techniques and technologies.

o To focus on only rural areas is not enough. That may be where the

center of food production takes places and where some off-farm

employment takes place. But, rural areas must be better linkedCt

urban areas for markets, inputs, employment, etc.

o To do a lot of short term activities is not enough. They may help

in their incremental and ad hoc way, but long term commitment-is

needed for research-and assistance.

'" --- --7-

to provide low-resource agriculturalists with greater options for their

future. "Increased:food security is one specific way to-improve well-being.

'Neither the strategic approach outlined here, nor any other, can be

expected to produce a "Green'Revolution" in African agriculture. Instead,

low-resource agriculture can be expected to change gradually. Technology can

contribute significantly to this process by expanding the technical repertoire

available to low resource farmers and herders.

A-low-resource agriculture approach notes four major features of African

agriculture and identifies corresponding guidelines for development assistance

groups to heed:

'. A complex web of connections: low-resource agriculturalists in

Africa are a diverse group and low-resource agriculture functions in a complex

web of relations and interactions within individual farming systems and by

links outside the farming system. Therefore, promising development assistance

efforts would:

S Ensure improved understanding of the ecological, social, economic,

*'- institutional, and technical components of farming systems and their

.integration into a whole.

*-;: Integrate and -use interdisciplinary knowledge of these various

S components.

.* Prevent disrupting existing positive links external to the farming

system, maintain and strengthen other links, and promote new ones.

2. Flexibility in the f.ce of diversity: !ow-resource ftrme.rs and

herders have responded t.,..t .iain degree )f uncertainty, risk. and

vulnerability with resourcefulness, flexibility, and diverse strategies. In

particular, these responses minimize risk while maximizing returns.

---- -- -

Therefore, promising devqLopmen: assistance efforts would:

Support the risk averse strategies, the diversity, and the

flexibility that characterize the resourcefulness of low-resource'

farmers and herders and thus reduce their vulnerability.

S* Design, implement, monitor, and evaluate policies, economic

strategies, and technologies for their differential local effects by

age, gender, ethnic group, and economic status.

Use multiple channels for policies, programs, and projects and

adjust these as a result of monitoring and feedback.

3. Local riches: Local resources, such as the skills of local people,

local knowledge, local practices, local institutions, and indigenous plants

and animals reflect adaptations to the diverse localized conditions that

characterize sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, promising development.assistance

efforts would:

Use Local resources as a starting point.

Promote and enhance such key resources as the knowledge and labor of

African women and give special consideration to the potentially

negative effects on women of certain policies, technologies, and


Insist that local participation be an integral factor in the

initiation, design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation'of


A. Resources for Alrica's children: African agricultural systems, 'which

were sustainable int he past, are not keeping pace presently with rapid

change; they can be managed for environmental, social, institutional,

r -- --

technological, and economic sustainability. Low-resource agriculture in

Africa is increasingly unable to keep pace with the pressures and demands

being placed on it because of unprecedented population growth and increasing

poverty. In the aggregate, the problem-is extremely serious. In the areas

most susceptible or most affected, it is a crisis. Therefore, promising

development assistance efforts would:

Ensure that donors, national governments, and others work with low-

S resource agriculturalists to manage their land and resources

sustainability to preserve options for Africa's children.

-* Shift attitudes, policies, and practices of donors, African

government", and low-resource farmers and herders regarding

S sustainability.

.This strategic approach is not entirely new, but builds on past

approaches such as AID's "Basic Human Needs" approach and-the current emphasis

on policy reform. These latter directives can be seen as providing tools,

such as policy dialog and promotion of the private sector, to accomplish the

intent of the former. Nor is this approach advocated as the single best

strategy for sub-Saharan Africa. 'The'development of low-resource agriculture

is essential for African economic development, but it is not the only

component of that process.

.OTA's analysis suggests that the principles and features outlined here

are required for successful development to occur (Esman, 1986; Fleuret, 1986;

Grover and Malvestuto. 1986: Kni;ht ind Child. 1926: Nor nh.. 1986: U.S.

Congress, 1986). A tairiy larae ..,nsensus-exists reiardin, :he way tr.a OT.

has characterized LRA, the guidelines drawn from this characterization, and

the needed features of development assistance that result. While some would


disagree with hne central focus on LRAi.differences of opinion are more likely

regarding specific questions of implementation.

It is with no small degree of frustration that many of the lessons'

learned to date about how (and how not to) promote Africa agriculture have

come from development assistance failures. Inappropriate technologies, Lack

of knowledge of the agricultural systems and the Land's resource base, lack of

local participation, and programs that are not sustainable are all among the

reasons for the failures. This strategic approach has merit as a guide to

less intrusive, more evolutionary, and more consistent development

assistance. The-strength of this approach is that it reshapes the process of

development assistance as well as the product. There would be costs, of

course, involved in this strategic shift, but in the Long-term the cost of not

using such a strategy would likely be greater.

A number of critical issues exist which will make it difficult to

implement a low-resource approach to agriculture within the development

community in Africa, including:

Inflexible bureaucracies, with few incentives to involve low-

resource agriculturalists,

The attitudes of donors, who tend to focus too much on increases in

productivity and too little on reducing the risks confronted by Low-

resource agriculturalists,

S Disciplinary divisions and disputes,

Lack of long-term commitment to development assistance,

Lack of knowledge chat only more research can fill. especially about

the systems where low-r soJ;re agriculture takes place and what. is

and is not environmentally, socially, economically, technologically,

and institutionally sustainable, and

Potentially conflicting objectives-with regard to the role and

contribution of low-resource agriculture (e.g., should countries

strive to produce cheap food for urban areas or encourage food and

income for rural development).

The Role Technology Can Play

Africa agriculture is in rapid transition. Although traditional

extensive, shifting agriculture remains important, the vast majority of the

continent's agriculturalists are shifting to a more intensified, permanent

agriculture. In general, African agriculture is moving toward systems where

more inputs (both internal and external) are used. Therefore technological

innovation in low-resource agriculture systems will be a major factor in

determining Africa's ability to meet the challenges ahead. This innovation

'will include a blending of the best of traditional and modern agriculture.

The prospect that Africa will need to double its agricultural production

over the next few decades to keep pace with population growth is daunting.

For Africa, however, there is no Green Revolution in sight -- no hope for a

dramatic technological change like that which occurred in Asia. But this does

not mean that there is no hope, only that the methods and goals -- and

technological approaches used are by necessity different in the African

context. Rather than relying on the well-defined technology package of inputs

that produced the Green Revolution, the most viable strategy for promoting

food security in Africa call. fo" evolution of exist-in fnarmin systems. A

more diversified approach is needed. where the technoloaies';re better united

to the needs and characteristics of the wide range of small-scale, resource

poor.farming systems that predominate in Africa. Although much uncertainty


exists over the availability and potential of various technologies, it is

clear-that some technologies-do exist that show high potential -for-use and

wider application in the farming systems of Africa. Promising technologies,

as defined for this assessment, are those which at present are often

overlooked and underused by development assistance agencies, and which are:

technically and environmentally sound;

socially desirable, that is, they address farmer-identified problems

and operate within farmer-constraints and they attempt to minimize

the disruption of existing farming systems;

economically affordable, and

technically, environmentally, socially, and economically


The focus of technological development in Africa should not be simply

increased yields, it-is to improve food security including both-food

production and access to food. Reduction of risk, Labor,:.and environmental

degradation are complementary goals. This study focuses primarily on

promising technologies to improve food security, especially those that

increase net agricultural production with some attention to processing

technologies and related issues. While OTA's analysis sees an .important role

for technology in the future of African agriculture, it is only one factor

among many that must be considered. Thus, it is essential that research to

adapt and develop low-resource agriculturalists technologies be accompanied by

attempts to address the many non-technical Eactors (e.;.. social.

institutional, political) chac.influence the overall picture. These

nontechnical factors operate at the national and farm Level. For example,

African governments struggling with debt servicing burdons find it difficult

to focus resources on LRA development. Civil strife or refugee problems can

overwhele efforts to promote LRA. :At the farm level,.women's'lack of credit

or extension seriously limits the potential of LRA by limiting their access to


STable 1 lists the promising technologies studied in this assessment. The

most promising approaches have certain elements in common. First, risk

aversion is an important but previously underemphasized objective. Second,

the technologies tend to be labor-efficient, but not labor-displacing. In

addition, it is crucial that the benefits produced accrue to farmers, and that

'farmers especially women are included in the development, extension, and

evaluation of the techniques. It is also essential that the technologies be

flexible, and enable farmers to make changes ("modernize") no matter what

level:of resources they have now or may have in the future.

One key element.is the importance of the local environment both people

and resources and this accounts for OTA's organization of technologies by

agroecological zone. Farmers' knowledge should be solicited in the design and

implementation of technologies, and existing farmer practices should serve as

the starting point for the development of "hybridized" traditional-modern

technologies. To make this strategy work, research needs to be reoriented so

it relies less on expensive, external inputs, such as fossil fuels, and more

on internal inputs, such as more efficient use of labor and renewable


Ideally, it would be useful to provide a detailed, quantitative analysis

of the technological potenti! of low-resource azricuiLur'- in Africa but this

is not possible. Unlike tn.- situation in the United St.atrc.. :here potential

production increases can be estimated relatively reliably, for instance, if

fertilizer input is doubled, in Africa there is too much uncertainty to make

STable 1: Promising technologies and practices; agroecological zone of
implementation; primary benefits. .4I think. this. should-becstandardized-to-.--
AID'a classification system, but for now A-arid/seti-arid, S-Seasonally humid,
C-Continuously humid, H-Highlands.

Technology and practices
Crop breeding
Crop Breeding

Integrating Aniu(t/
Cropping System
. Animal traction

zone primary benefits "
A,S,C,H improves resistance to diseases,
pests, and toxic minerals; improves
efficiency of resource use

A,S,C,H reduces drudgery;improves labor

Animal health & nutrition AS,C,H

Animal breeding A,S,C,H improves resistance to disease

Small ruminants & poultry A,S,C,H

Aquaculture A,S,C,H source of protein; recycle nutrients

-. Inc trioppin

Dispersed field tree

Alley cropping


Ocher linear plantings

Soil and Water Manageent
Water harvesting

Tied ridges

Contour planting

Recession farming

A,S,C,H reduces risk of crop failure; improves
efficiency of resource use; reduces pest problems


increases soil organic matter; source of
fodder, fuelvood

S,C,H increases soil organic matter; source of
fodder, fuelvood

A,S,C,H decreases wind damage, especially of
seedlings; decreases evapotranspiration;
source of fodder, fuelvood

A,S,C,H source of fodder,fuelwood; contain

A,S,R increase water available from rainfall


increase water available from rainfall

A,S increase water available from rainfall;
reduce soil erosion

A.,S labor efficient method of growing crops
using water from annual floods .

r I

-l31_- -

Drainage practices


Minimum tillage

Soil conserving
vegetation practices

Improving Soil Fertility

Biological nitrogen

Inorganic fertilizers:
phosphate rock

Inorganic fertilizers:
chemical fertilizers

Small-scale irrigation
Gravity fed:
channeled systems

.Gravity fed:
poldered systems

Mechanically fed:
water lifting

Mechanically fed:
water pumping

Integrated Pest Management

Host resistance

Cultural controls

Biological controls

Chemical pesticides

Post-harvest technologies

C,H enables-production on land that would
otherwise be waterlogged

C,H reduces water and soil runoff

C,H prepares land without incurring costs of
plowing soil erosion, excessive leaching

S,C,H reduces water and soil runoff

-A,S,C,H increases soil organic matter

A,S,C,H increases soil fertility

A,S,C,H increases soil fertility

A,S,C,H increases soil fertility

increases water availability

increases water availability

increases water availability

increases water availability

A,S,C,R reduce risk of accidental introduction
of pests

A,S,C,H improves resistance to pests and disease

A,S,C,H reduces pest population by manipulating
farming practices

A,S,C,H reduces pest populations by using
natural enemies

A,S,C,H reduces pest populations by killing them
with synthetic biocides

such an estimate.7 The African farmer's access to this input, the type

available, the ability to purchase:it, the capability to use it effectively,

etc., is much more variable than in developed countries. In this analysis,

less emphasis is placed on quantifying what the technology can accomplish and

more attention is paid to the logic of why that technology is the most

appropriate for the situation.

An important criterion in deciding that these technologies can make

significant contributions is their probability of being adopted by low-

resource farmers. Some of the technologies discussed in this report are

already in use but are capable of improvement (e.g., intercropping). Other

are "new" but it is expected that farmers would accept them because the

technologies are well-matched to the needs and resources of the

agriculturalists. For example, farmers currently recognize that declining -

soil fertility is a constraint and know that shifting cultivation is no longer

an option for dealing with this problem. -Alley cropping is a technology that

can be used to alleviate this farmer-identified problem. By combining

scientifically-based improvements for accelerating fallows with other benefits

such as fuelwood or fodder production, this technology represents an

affordable way to address several farmer concerns.

Implementation.of AStrategic Approach to L9A

Despite a long-standing tradition of foreign assistance, the United

States needs to be humble about predicting Africa's agricultural future

because most of the choices are n..r oirs to make. Development assistance ia

just that assistance. Low-resource agriculture is the system used by most

of the continent's people, and it is clear that it will play a central role in


theirf.uture. However, the diversity of low-resource strategies and the

heterogeneity of the people involved.make a.single blueprint approach to

agricultural development impossible. There simply are too many variables --

agroecological zones, farming systems, cultural differences -- for any

blueprint to fit the majority of Low-resource agriculturalists in the most

applicable way possible for each.

The United States could make significant contributions to improve low-

resource agriculture. How to draw out this potential is a key question that

needs to be addressed. In addition to strategic factors outlined above,

attention needs to be directed to funding, specific implementation approaches,

and current dc/elopment strategies.

Funding. The total cost of using an Low-resource agriculture approach. t.o-

African development cannot be determined. This is because low-resource

agriculture should be only part of a total African development effort and its

importance will differ from place to place. A low-resource agriculture

approach may be more expensive in the short term, but costs should decline as

African capabilities increase.

.Current congressional funding is neither adequately constant nor balanced-
to support the long-term planning and implementation needs of LRA

development. Overall assistance to Africa significantly increased between

1978-1985 but with swings in the annual available funding making it difficult

to develop a long-term approach. Sharp declines in 1986 and 1987 funds make

future planning more difficult while affecting current implementation. The

rise.in assistance to Africa included increased funding for aArlcultural

assistance. Much of this assistance was available from increased ESF and PL

480 funding not Development Assistance Funds (see Table 2) The shift to

increased use of ESF and PL 480 for agricultural assistance also inhibits


- -- .

Table 2:

Changes in Amounts of DA and ESF for SSA

(millions of constant 1985 $)

DA Z of





















Z of








.*. f -

0.0 .















---16- -

long-term development work. ESF (because of its political application) and PL

480 (because of its relief component)-country and region levels can swing

radically. Funding cuts in ESF combined with politically earmarking of its

use has led to declines in African levels. Additionally, the use of ESF for

agricultural developmental work has focused on policy reform. Increasing ESF

levels while holding DA steady (in constant terms) has led to a shift to

emphasizing policy reform while reducing relative funding for other

agricultural needs (e.g. infrastructure, education, credit, etc.). Long-term

stable levels of funding may better be promoted by making DA the primary

source of funding for agricultural assistance to Africa partly because

Congress has mandated its use for development and partly because of the

unreliability of the other funding sources.

AID's funding of agricultural development increased between 1978-1985

though in proportion to overall Africa Bureau spending it has declined. The

major:shift over that period has been the growing importance of policy reform

& economic stabilization support which rose from 6.6% of the Africa Bureau's

agricultural portfolio to 32% in 1985. Research and development was the only

other area to increase its percentage of total funding over that time. Due to

total increases in overall funding, other areas increased'their levels of

funding but declined in proportional importance. With declines in overall

funding levels, increased levels of policy reform funding cannot be maintained

without major cuts in the other areas.

Specific Implementation Approaches. How a low-resource agriculture

strategy is translated into action will depend on both Congress and AID. At

one Level, the way in which Congress carries out its functions of

authorization, appropriation, and oversight will affect the implementation of

a low-resource agriculture approach. Some hindering factors cannot be

-- -17- .

mitigated, such as that seven committees, and many more subcommittees, have

direct jurisdiction over U.S. agricu.Lural assistance while still others have

oversight authority, or the very real time constraints felt by.both Members

and staff. In addition, supporting a needed long-term focus for Low-resource

agriculture development assistance is a serious challenge because of

Congress's focus on innediate needs and fast answers.

Still, Congress has important powers the power to legislate, the power

to authorize funding, and the power of oversight that could be used to

foster support for low-resource agriculture. In general, no major new

legislation is needed because current congressional direction is adequate to

encompass a low-rescurce agriculture approach although certain changes could

better support such an approach. Funding, while a more complicated issue,

also alreadypays some attention to an low-resource agriculture approach. .

Perhaps the most crucial responsibility, however, is oversight to assure that

low-resource agriculture funds are actually being put to work effectively.

Effective oversight will take a long-term commitment by Cohgress. In

addition, certain inherent constraints would need to be overcome.

At the AID level, implementation should be seen in light of current

trends. AID recently has promoted a decentralized approach to giving field

missions increased authority for implementing policy. AID-hopes

decentralization will cut paperwork and increase responsiveness to Local

conditions. However, because the missions are geographically removed from

Congress and Washington, and because of their increased authority, oversight

should be a mixture of mandate and cooperation.

Other changes at AID also have a strong bearing on developing a

successful low-resource agriculture strategy. Reductions in budget and

personnel, combined with a strong emphasis on program assistance not linked to


LRA development (which transfers cash or commodities, rather than supports:

projects) all could act to hinder implementation. Problems with AID's -

planning process, length of activities, contracting.procedures, and the

sustainability of the projects also interfere with implementation.

Current Development Strategy. Existing congressional direction for U.S.

foreign policy already contains many of the factors necessary for an low-

resource agriculture approach to agricultural development in Africa. However,

our capacity to carry out this strategy could be enhanced by changes in

Congress, AID, and other U.S.-supported organizations, as well as in African

governments and among low-resource agriculturalists. At the same time, some

elements could make it difficult to pursue a low resource approach. so these

elements might need attention if the Unites States decides to more actively

focus on the low-resource agriculture elements of its development commitments.

AID's overall strategic approach for African development does' not prevent

carrying out a low-resource agriculture approach, but neither does it strongly

support it. For instance, AID's emphasis on policy reform and economic

stabilization, while not in conflict with the needs of a low-resource

agriculture approach, may pre-empt resources that could be devoted to LRA. In

addition, AID's approach to development needs to be balanced differently and

give more focus to low-resource agriculture. They need to be more concerned

with the proper mix of approaches for each locale instead of searching for a

theoretical mix to suit all Africa. Plus AID's agricultural research needs a

stronger low-resource emphasis.


Given the implications and importance of lov-resource agriculture,

policymakers must continue to address issues related to U.S. development

assistance for African farmers and herders. Enough information exists to

reshape strategic approaches, although further research and data collection

are warranted also.

OTA has identified options available to Congress. These options are

addressed under three major headings:

the importance of low-resource agriculture for food security

a strategic approach to supporting LRA'. food security potential

U.S. implementation of a strategic approach to support LRA.

In each area, OTA presents the major findings of this analysis and

options that reflect high priority actions. These range from legislative

initiatives to programmatic changes within Federal agencies. Table 3 provides

a summary of findings and options.

A. The Importance of Low-Resource Agriculture for Food Security

Finding: .

Low-resource agriculture is the predominant form of agriculture in Sub-

Saharan Africa, and the major source of rural food production,

employment, and income. No replacement for it exists now; therefore it

is the logical starting point for a strategy to promote food security in

the region.

Table 3. Summary of Findings and Options

Issue Finding '
A. LRA and Food Security LRA is starting point

- Options
Mandate food security focus
in Foreign Assistance Act

Direct AID to synthesize
and integrate evaluations

Agencies lack
LRA strategy

B. Strategic Approaches

C. US Implementation

Base on increased
understanding of LRA

Principles can guide
LRA strategy

Promising approaches
are long-term, flex-
ible, diversified and
rely on Africans

Technology can contri-
bute significantly

Agricultural research
is central

Development assistance
is in US interest but
lacks.public support

Shifts needed in atti-
tudes, operations,
practices of aid

AID must change

Adaptive trials and
on-farm research key
to generate technology

Designate AID to lead development
of interagency strategy and action

Direct AID to incorporate LRA
focus in planning documents

Develop systematic approach to data
collection, use, dissemination

Provide legislative support
for use of principles

Increase oversight substantially
of AID

Examine World Bank agricultural work

Evaluate use of technology
in Federal agencies

Develop LRA clearinghouse

Create African centers of excellence

Increase U.S. support for
training Africans

Direct USDA to develop educational

Ensure long-term approach via reauth-
orization, appropriations

Adjust balance between political and
development aid

Direct AID to identify and make
LRA-related reforms

Use oversight to ensure technology -
benefits LRA

- -20-

=2 1

Option 1: .

Congress could mandate that ensuring food security is a primary goal of

U.S. development assistance overall and/or U.S. agricultural development



Food security has long been considered a goal of development assistance

but it has not been included in the appropriate legislation. Its inclusion

(both in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Agricultural Trade

Development and Assistance Act of 1954) would unify current congressional

development direction for increasing rural productivity and increasing rural

income. The degree of increased food security could bemused as a

congressional measurement of the effectiveness of agricultural assistance and -

food aid.

Secondly, a congressional mandate on food security would direct AID to

take a broader view of the farmers, fishers, and herders' situation. In areas

where there may be an inordinate emphasis on increasing agricultural yields at

the expense of other objectives such as risk reduction, a food security

mandate might Lead to more appropriate balance of activities (e.g. increasing

off-farm income, or ensuring stable or minimum levels of production).

i Congressional acceptance of food security as a primary goal of development

assistance would also give greater flexibility to AID to address local

conditions. In some areas, for example, activities to increase export-crop

production could be used to support LRA development because of strong markets

or the availability of marketed food supplies.

Finally, such a mandate could clear up confusion caused by AID

terminology. Currently, AID uses the terms "food security" and "food self-

2 -

.reliance" in a similar fashion .AID: Plan for Research 1985, U.S. Assistance

Strategy for Africa, 1986) leading to confusion concerning what AID means.

Option 2:

Congress could direct AID to catalogue and synthesize the lessons learned

from donor evaluation work in Sub-Saharan Africa and to integrate the

SLessons into AID's overall development strategy and operational activity.


OTA has found that many of the actions necessary to support the

development of LRA have already been identified in past evaluation work

carried out by AID and other donors (e.g. The World Bank). Two factors have

consistently constrained their implementation:

., A failure to catalogue and synthesize the evaluation findings

A failure to integrate these findings into AID's development work

due to a lack of a mechanism to do so, a lack of incentives, and the

S low priority given to LRA generally.

S-Donor evaluations are primarily organized on a project, country or sector

basis. Syntheses of these evaluations may not address the overall

* agricultural and LRAist development, and lessons learned may remain

unorganized. A strategy for addressing LRA could be grounded in the synthesis

of this unorganized information and supplemented with field knowledge. This

synthesis could be done within a year by a review of AID ev?!uations, 3ther

donor evaluations, interviews with field staff and interviews with African

counterparts. Because the synthesis would be a basis for future work, AID

personnel should carry out the work to ensure their familiarity with the

--23- -- -

results. A further step to ensure such familiarity among operational.staff

would be to" give the Africa Bureau -primary responsibility for the work because

of their lead role if the Agency's African development work.

The existence of this evaluation knowledge and AID's current difficulties

in addressing LRA point to the need for a better way to integrate the

knowledge into future development action. Congressional direction for the

establishment of a formal means (e.g. building the evaluation synthesis into

each Country Development Strategy Statement or ensuring that each

project/program addresses the synthesis) could also include direction for the

upkeep of this system (possibly a review of the synthesis every 5 years by the

same Bureaus and the adoption of its results) to ensure a continuing process

of integrating results from future evaluations. In conjunction with such

mechanisms, AID could address the need to reward the use of synthesis

knowledge (e.g. creating career tracks for personnel).


Existing U.S. legislation identifies low resource agriculturalists in

developing countries as priority recipients for development assistance.

U.S. development assistance agencies with responsibilities for

implementing this legislation, however, lack a defined strategy

necessary to promote development in the LBA sector.

Option 1:

Direct AID to act as lead agency in developing an interagency strategy in

support of LRA in Africa, that can then serve as a basis from which to

develop Agency action plans.



A number of U1S. executive branch agencies can make important

contributions in providing development assistance to LRA in Africa. Realizing

the full potential of these various sources of support would benefit from a

more strategic and coordinated implementation. Developing a formal U.S.

government strategy would be useful in defining appropriate roles and

responsibilities for U.S. support for LRA development in Africa, identifying

and avoiding interventions with adverse effects on the LRA sector, defining

priority undertakings, areas of possible collaboration among federal agencies

and between federal agencies and NGOs and other private sector groups, develop

channels for more effective. interagency sharing of information and expertise,

and developing proper and convenient access to expertise when not available


AID has served in the capacity of lead agency in developing U.S.

strategies in support of U.S. interests in developing countries before.

Efforts to establish a U.S. strategy on the world's tropical forests and

subsequently on maintaining biological diversity, illustrate the process. In

both cases AID, with support from other agencies, organized strategy

conferences. These conferences served to highlight the importance of various

issues, outline major areas of concern and avenues to address these concerns,

and.bring together various experts in the field with agencies with

responsibilities for addressing these concerns. Also in both cases,

interagency task forces were developed that built on conference results and

defined specific areas where U.S. government support should b. directed; The

most difficult step in the pr.-cess has betn get.ing ;idI,'iual agencies co

develop action plans to actually implement the strategies, although progress

has been made in both examples cited.

-- -25- -" "t

SSeveral factors would need to be resolved in defining the desired

parameter of a strategy conference in support of LRA. For example, would the

purpose be to focus on Africa or developing countries generally? Irrespective

of this -decision, consideration should be given to establishing broad

participation among scientists, development agency personnel, non-governmental

and private organizations. The biological diversity conference also included

participation of House and Senate staff who were able to contribute a

Congressional perspective on the proceedings. Particularly important in

addressing the LRA issue would be a strong representation of developing

country nationals, perhaps comprising 50 percent of participants. This may

point to the desirability of supporting separate regionally based conferences

in an effort to facilitate Logistical requirements. Also important,

particularly in the African context, is need for including participation of -

women to the maximum extent practicable, with perhaps 25 percent as a minimum.

Building on Conference proceedings, Congress could then direct the

interagency task force to develop a U.S. government strategy document

outlining basic elements of a U.S. strategy in support of LRA. In the past,

however, these strategy documents have been criticized for being too broad and

lacking in specific implementation guidelines. To overcome these constraints

it may be useful for individual agencies to then develop Action Plans, that

define specific responsibilities and priorities for each agency and mechanisms

for interagency cooperation. Such documents could provide Congress useful

information on how best to support such initiaves, including funding


-26- -" -

Option 2:

Direct AID to:establish mechanisms to incorporate bottom-up input into

the development of all strategic planning document plans in support of



The disappointing track record for development assistance projects

focused on low resource farmers and herders in Africa is attributed in large

part to the failure to incorporate more grassroots participation in project

planning, design, implementation, and monitoring. A successful U.S. program

to promote development of LRA in Africa should therefore stress greater

involvement of grassroots groups. These include those individuals working at -

the field level, familiar with particular needs, opportunities and constraints

in particular areas. These groups include the farming communities themselves,

and individual local organizations such as cooperatives and women

organizations. Input from Local and national government officials working in

the area, as well as expatriots and non-African NGOs working directly with

LRAists are ,also important sources of information.

The highly diversified character of LRA in Africa necessitates

incorporating this sort of bottom-up channel of communication in order to

identify and tailor LRA development planning documents suited to various

regions. Country Development Strategy Statements (CDSS) are an important

examples of country Level strategy documents that should incorporate greater

participation of in-country groups. U.S. financial support rfor national

strategic documents, such resource development plaits, shtruid aiso stress the

need for bottom-up participation.

S- =27- ." -

Creating or enhancing the capacity of appropriate mission Level personnel

to develop this sort of participatory planning could benefit not only in-

country planning but could be incorporated, through a filter-up mechanism to

regional planning documents. For example, specific programs developed and

administered at the regional bureau level at AID, could use this in-country

developed material to define regional priorities.

B. A Strategic Approach to Supporting LRA's Food Security Potential


A fundamental understanding of low-renource agriculture is the base upon

which strategic approaches to increasing LBA's contribution to food

security must be built.


Because of lack of reliable information and gaps in.knowledge about low-

resource agriculture in Africa, Congress could request that all relevant

U.S. Government-funded agencies establish and implement a strategy to

.support development and application of Africa's national and regional

capabilities. Congress could direct AID to develop a program to assist

Africans in the systematic collection, use, and dissemination of

ecological, economic, household level, gender-related, and other data on



The lack of reliable data impedes a real understanding of the nature and

magnitude of.low-resource agriculture in Africa. It also impedes the

development of appropriate responses. In order to overcome this obstacle,

Congress could request that the various U.S. agencies that are involved in

data collection or the development of databases develop a program to support

information management in Africa. The U.S. Department of Agriculture. Economic

Research Service (USDA/ERS) could provide more active leadership among other

U.S. agencies in developing African capabilities to collect, manage and use

economic data, with special emphasis on household Level and gender-related

data. USDA/Agricultural Research Service (ARS) could provide more active

leadership in developing minimum datasets to ensure the comparability of a

minimum set of variables across all countries or specific zones, especially in

arid and semi-arid zones where ARS works under a Participating Agency Services

Agreement (PASA) with the Agency for International Development. The Census

Bureau could be asked especially to ensure that ways to collect gender-related

and disaggregated data are included in their technical assistance efforts to

-countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric

Administration (NOAA) could be encouraged to increase its efforts in working

with i drought and famine warning system in.Sub-Saharan Africa.

AID could support research, especially by African scientists, on issues

related to the contribution of low-resource to national economies, on ways to

improve productivity that follow the guidelines of the U.S. Strategy for

Development Assistance to Low-Resource Agriculture in Africa, etc. AID could

also fund the collection and synthesis of data from microstudies in areas

where the Agency has on-going programs or in areas where it anticipates the

development of new projects. These studies should especially incorporate

local knowledge and oral hisfor.t~s b.-cause much knowledge is being Lost.

Agencies of the U.S..government could Look at the potential of developing

data sets in African institutions that focus more directly on agroecological

-. 29- __ -'

zones. OTA recognizes the problems of this kind of approach bit feels that

more systematic collection of certain information by agroecological zone can

and should be done and that African capabilities should be developed and

applied to doing this.

Existing African national and regional institutions should be used where

possible. The intent is not to develop large hardware systems but to develop

capabilities that could use Less expensive equipment in well-managed African

information management system. Regional institutions of Africa could be

developed to serve as clearinghouses of a decentralized system, capable of

identifying where information is stored across the region, facilitating the

sharing of information across the region, providing support to countries-

developing their own systems, and serving as a catalyst for the periodic

synthesis of regional or zonal data to determine lessons learned across

'* broader areas and issues. A major constraint to development of these

capabilities is that of recurrent costs. -These can be reduced if each AID

project has an information management component which is consistent with that

of the region and if AID works with other donors, including the International

Agricultural Research Centers to ensure compatibibility and avoid redunancy.


Certain principles can guide a strategic approach to improve LEA: begin

with local resources, use flexible approaches, strengthen connections

within agricultural systems and their external links to other systems,

and ensure future sustainability.


Congress could take an active role in looking at the implications of the

principles outlined in this assessment and provide more consistent

legislative support to their implementation.


I While the Foreign Assistance Act does recognize the vulnerability of the

poor in developing countries, it does not directly address the issue of

reducing their vulnerability. While the Foreign Assistance Act does mention

indigenous resources, principally human and institutional ones, it could

expand the meaning to include indigenous knowledge, local species, and the

like. The emphasis in the Foreign Assistance Act on the role of women is

warranted, especially considering the role of women in food production in Sub-

Saharan Africa.. This emphasis should be continued. And while the Foreign

Assistance Act does mention the existence of marketing and service systems, it

does not link them with farming systems.

Also, the Foreign Assistance Act states that "Special efforts shall be

made to maintain and where possible to restore the land, vegetation, water and

wildlife, and other resources upon which depend economic growth and human

well-being, especially of the poor", the FAA does not integrate the concept of

sustainability adequately.' The issue of sustainability is not integral to

discussion on the need to increase production. And, where it is stated in the

current legislation, it is not broadly enough defined to include the need for

social, economic and institutional sustainability alone with ecological

Sustainability. Congress coulu require .Li U.S. funded activities to monitor

their activities for their sustainability and report back to the Congress on


their progress toward implementing activities that are more Likely to be



The.most promising strategic approaches to supporting LRA with

development assistance share common features: long-term planning and

programming, increasing reliance on African capability, ability to shift

approaches both in different regions and as low-resource agriculture

develops, and capacity to include a mix of approaches, such as activities

to develop off-farm income.


Congress could play a greater and more coordinated role in oversight of

the implementation of strategic approaches to low-resource agriculture in



OTA sees that a greater proportion of effort could be spent by the

Congress in oversight of the implementation strategic approaches.to low-

resource agriculture in Africa. Congress could develop strategic use of the

.oversight process to provide for a coherent and systematic review of U.S.

agency implementation. A task force of relevant committee staff could

designate lead responsibility to specific subcommittees to address specific

.substantive issues that might be of interest to several committees.

Subcommittees could designate starl time to coordinate with other

subcommittees and with AID and other U.S. agencies on addressing specific

issues to reduce excessive overlap and redundancy which takes up both


Congressional and Executive Branch time. Congress could also consider the

possibilityof establishing a new Development Assistance Study Institute, or

using a.current one such as the Energy and Environment Study Institute, that

would provide a liaison for focusing on issues related to development

assistance and coordinating a program of oversight. The intent of this would

be to have agencies of the Executive Branch work with a Congressional Task

Force or Study Institute on oversight of the implementation of a U.S.

strategy. The Task Force would include primarily representatives of

Congressional committees, AID, but ARS, ERS, Census Bureau, Forest Service,

Soil Conservation Service and other agencies should.be involved. This forum

could provide an opportunity to improve relations between Congress and the

Executive Agencies and more input by technical personnel of these agencies

into the oversight process.

More specifically, the oversight requirements of specific Cotmittees and

Subcommittees could be outlined in an Oversight Plan in addition to the the

following areas: What needs to be looked at? What committees might be

involved? How might committee activities be linked? What schedule should be

followed? The Oversight Plan could identify more' specifically those topics

for which extensive hearings records exist, such as Women in Development. For

these topics, Congress could request that AID and other U.S. agencies provide

brief summaries of their earlier testimony and updates on their progress in

these areas rather than repeat information that is already in the record.

Both Congress and the Executive Branch agencies could be served by more

focused and less redundant oversieht.



OTA has identified a number of areas in which the performance of AID and
other Executive Branch agencies could be improved. Through oversight,
Congress could focus on general themes and specific topics. Congress.could
seek African perspectives on many of these.

1. Operations-The objective of this oversight theme would be to determine
the extent to which AID and other agencies are implementing a strategic
approach through changes in the way they do business, or operate. Topics
might include:

Building staff and program continuity in the field

Training programs and their role in developing staff skills

Performance evaluation incentives for personnel to focus on key
issues such as sustainability and local participation

Programs to develop better relations between Congress and the
Executive Agencies (e.g.,. tours of duty of AID personnel to work on
committee and subcommittee staffs)

Experimental and flexible operations, such as using rolling project
design, longer-term financial commitments and more monitoring,and
re-evaluations, to enhance agency ability to mee objectives

2. Research. Technology Development and Dissemination-The objective of this
oversight would be to determine how closely current research, technology
development and dissemination matches an LRA approach.

Research focused on such areas as drought-resistant varieties,
short-growing season varieties, African crops, socioeconomic issues,
food processing, "high" technology that relates to low-resource
farming systems, administrative systems research (e.g., bureaucratic
system incentives, intermediate.organizations), and research on
mixtures of crops and products rather than single commodities.

Gender-related research

3. Sustainability-The objective of this oversight would be to provide
constant monitoring of what AID and others are doing to ensure the
sustainability of development. The topics might include:

Operationalizing and measuring ecologically, socially, economically,
technologically and institutionally sustainable practices and

S Role of Support Activities in ensuring sustainable development:

Monitoring and evaluation of sustainability-so that AID creates
some formal mechanism/process to rank its own work on a scale of


sustainability and so that it can be seen how AID really effects
LRA. It should not be boilerplate.

4. Local Participation--The objective here would be to provide oversight
over development assistance activities as they try to develop more local"
participation. This might require long-term monitoring of the results of
efforts. Some of the topics might include:

Women in development, agency progress in integrating and using the
skills, knowledge .and other resources of women

Institutionalizing participatory practices in the operations of
U.S.-funded activities

5. Donor Partnership--The objective here would be to look at the roles,
activities and coordination of donors. Topics might include:

International institutions--cooperation in a strategy for Low-
resource agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa. Using the comparative
advantages of all agencies in the donor community, i.e., IFAD, IBRD,
FAO, NGOs, PVOs, etc.

S Removing constraints to productivity without making low-resource
agriculturalists more vulnerable

6. U.S. Interests in Development Assistance-The objective would be to look
at what U.S. interests are and to determine the areas of divergence and
convergence of opinion as well.as possible means to resolve conflict.
Potential topics might be:

Development education for Congress and the American public.

** Competition between U.S. and African farmers for world markets

S Food AID: Its positive and negative impacts and how it can most
effectively be used

Problems and Potentials of U.S. institutions in providing
development assistance to low-resource agriculture in Sub-Saharan
Africa (including Title XII universities, private sector, private
voluntary and non-governmental organizations)


Option 2:

Congress could oversee the,agricultural abilities of the World Bank.

This oversight could begin with.a evaluation of Bank agricultural work in

Africa and its ability to make use of the lessons it has learned there.

The evaluation could Lead into congressional efforts to get the Bank to

make use of its own evaluations and reform its operations in a way that

would support the development of LRA.


World Bank agricultural project activities in Africa have had a poor

record of success. According to 1986 World Bank evaluations, 75 percent of

World Bank African agricultural projects failed. *At the same time, the Bank's

evaluations department has outlined the needs of successful development and

documented the failure of the Bank to address them.

In order to make the best use of limited development. funds, Congress

could first make itself aware of the situation (Bank evaluations are available

from the Treasury Department) and then begin working with the Bank to address

the issues. Through hearings, legislation directed to the U.S. Treasury

(which represents the U.S. at the Bank) and U.S. embassies, and funding

changes, Congress is already working with the Bankon environmental issues.

Agricultural reforms could be addressed in the same way.


-Technology can contribute significantly to the process of low-resource

agriculture development by expanding the technical repertoire of

LRAiscs. Successful technical support will vary from region to region,


change with time, and depend on both technical and non-technical

factors. -Promising technologies share several common characteristics:

technically and environmentally sound

socially desirable

economically affordable

broadly sustainable

Option 1:

Congress could request a study to evaluate past efforts and future

capabilities of AID, USDA, and other development assistance agencies to

to develop and disseminate technologies suitable for LRAists.


The failure of attempts to transfer technologies used in developed

'countries to the developing world is widely recognized. Remedies have called

for more attention to be paid to the conditions facing the poor

farme/herder/fisher. Technologies proposed to bridge the gap have gone under

various:.labels -- e.g. appropriate, alternative, soft, intermediate, low-cost

- and have meant different things to different people. OTA has identified

technologies that have the potential to substantially improve food security as

African agriculture undergoes a transformation from extensive shifting

cultivation to increasingly intensive permanent cultivation. Any particular

technology, such as improved varieties, may not yet be readily available to

some farmers; other technologies, such as intercroppina. are already the

prevalent practice. Hybricdied tradi: ..';ai-modern technologies should

facilitate the process of agricultural intensification. These promising

technologies share several common characteristics:

.-- -37-

S Technically and environmentally sound: Technologies should address

farmer-identified problems. where possible, they build on existing

practices for coping with the problem, encouraging farmer participation

in developing and testing technologies. The technologies discussed in

this report have shown significant improvements in field trials and now

require adaptation to local conditions.

S Socially desirable: Increases in Labor are acceptable only if drudgery is

reduced and/or demand on labor becomes more timely and equitable. This

is particularly important in regard to the impact of the technology on

women, because they already have responsibility for much of the labor yet

they are so poorly represented in the process of technology development

and extension.

* Economically affordable: There is almost always some risk associated with

the introduction of a technology. This can be offset to some extent by

focussing on technologies that are risk averse,.e.g. stabilize production

in bad years. Possible increases in risk should be anticipated and

negative impacts minimized.

* Broadly sustainable: From an environmental standpoint, priority should be

given to technologies that emphasize conservation of natural resources.

They should give a high priority to the use of resources internal to the

farm, which are often inexpensive and renewable, rather than externally

purchased inputs.

Option 2:

Congress could support the development of an information network to be a

clearinghouse for information on technologies to benefit LRA.

-38- -


One of the most unfortunate'wastes of resources results from the lack of

an information network on low-resource agriculture. Research is often

duplicated while valuable information misses its intended target. For

example, United States research on agroforestry has spent time and money,

adding Little to the information already available from French agronomists and

foresters. The French efforts largely ignored the indigenous knowledge base

represented by farmers who collectively still know more about native plants

than any outside "expert". An information network is needed to better

integrate this information into the more established development circles.

Ongoing efforts of Rodale-International, Winrock-International, the Institute

of Alternative Agriculture, the International Alliance of Sustainable

Agriculture, among other U.S. based organizations should be evaluated and


Equally important is the need for this information to be affordable and

accessible to the thousands of practioners located across the African

continent. No single information center or network can possibly service the

numerous and varied needs of these practioners, but there is room for enormous

improvement. Two recent proposals, DEVECOL (Development Ecology Information

Service for Field Workers) and an initiative proposed by Rodale-International

could be examined for feasibility and support. Of primary concern will ibe how

to develop a system that is sufficiently decentralized to be relevant and

accessible, yet provide information in an affordable manner.


Africa's development will have to be driven by agriculture, and realizing

agricultural potential is directly tied to agricultural research.

-39- -

Option 1:

Congress could support the development of African centers of excellence

capable of promoting development of LRA.


AID's agricultural research strategy (Plan for Supporting Agricultural

Research and Faculties of Agriculture in Africa, 1985) attempts to increase

African capability by calling for long-term support (20-25 years minimum) to

(1) strengthen national research systems in 8 countries, (2) strengthen

faculties of agriculture in 4-6 of these 8 countries, and (3) develop research

networks on food crops, forages in mixed farms, and on-farm research with a

farming systems perspective. -The countries have been selected because of

their commitment to agricultural development, cheir existing capability and

potential for improvement, and their geographic distribution. OTA has

identified criteria that highlight and supplement those listed by USAID for

the development of these centers:

.Emphasis on farming systems research that has a strong institutional


. Better integration of all disciplines: natural and social sciences;

Between the natural sciences, e.g. agroforestry requires agriculture

and forestry skills, integration of animals into farms requires

diverse skills

* Links between researchers, extensionists and farmers ensuring

Dialogue in all phases of problem identification, research.

development and dissemination of technologies

Emphasis on training more women

-40-_ -

Expertise on low-resource agriculture, including technologies that

Emphasize internal resources-as.well as externally purchased inputs

Coverage of Africa's full range of agroecological zones

Links between agriculturalists and other nationals involved in

development; e.g, Ministry of Finance staff

Also, other issues must be considered in creating such centers of

excellence: who will bear recurrent costs? How will other institutions gain

access to information? What role might the existing network of international

agricultural research centers play?

Option 2:

Congress could enhance the use of United States technical expertise to

train Africans.


In addition to the Africans trained to staff the "centers of excellence",

there is an urgent need to increase the number of African agricultural

scientists. The African centers.will be a valuable resource in the-fuoure,

but in.the short term much of this training will have to occur outside Africa,

including in the United States. Avenues for doing this include AID's

participant training, bilateral projects, and CRSPs; NSF and a variety of

other public and private fellowships. More effective training can be

encouraged by:

Establishing permanent ties with U.S. universities and research

centers that have expertise in LRA: e.g. University ot Nebraska has

a well-advanced low-input research and extension center; University

of California-Davis has a plant breeding center with the interest-

41 -

and expertise to work on breeding to increase stability and

durability of resistance; the University of California-:Santa Cruz,

the recently established sustainable agriculture department of the

University of Maine, and: other "alternative" agriculture programs.

Establishing permanent ties with institutions in other developing


Enabling African students to work on African problems by providing

travel grants and other support for field work in their own


Providing sufficient "start-up" funds. A few thousand dollars a

year could be the difference between success and failure to a young

scientist in Africa. Sources for these funds include competitive "

small grants programs through USAID Missions.

Supporting twinning efforts between US and African scientists.

Supporting training in conjunction with long-term projects, thereby

training a generation of African senior scientists who would train

the next generation, etc, thus starting the chain reaction that has

been conspicuous by its absence in most of Africa's research


Providing short-term, modest support enabling junior researchers to

S collaborate with senior scientists. .

C. US Implementation of a Strategic Approach to Support Lov-Resource Agriculture


A long-term commitment to promoting food security among low resource

agriculturalists in developing countries is in the.U.S. interest, as well

as in the interest of African governments and the African people.

However, strong constituency support for assistance to LRAist in Africa

seem to emerge only in periods of crisis.

Option 1:

Congress could direct USDA to develop a educational campaign with the

purpose of informing the general-public, and particularly farming

interests and lobbies, of benefits to U.S. agriculture resulting from

U.S. agricultural development assistance to LDCs.


Despite well documented evidence that promoting agricultural productivity

of the poor in developing countries is in the economic self-interest of the

United.States, a strong perception to the contrary exists among the general

public. -Providing for a more informed constituency represents an important

step in ensuring development assistance policies consistent with broad U.S.

interests. This is particularly important among agricultural interests in the

United States. Studies show, for example that developing countries with the

fastest growth in agricultural productivity are also countries with greatest

demand for foreign agricultural products. Despite this, agricultural

interests, particularly individual commodity groups, have in recent years

directed campaigns against U.S. agricultural development assistance programs,

supported through AID and U.S. Land Grant Universities. Campaigns have been

pointed and impassioned, though a!leat.~rns have been largely unsubstantiated.

AID and University groups have responded Lo cnarzes LnaC they ire engased

in activities contrary to the interest of U.S. farmers by illustrating how

their-activities, rather than being detrimental to U.S. interests are actually

-- .

providing substantial positive benefits. Notwithstanding the benefits

identified, however, concerns exist that particular interest groups have been

able to adversely undermine the ability of federally funded institutions from

supporting or participating in international or bilateral agricultural

; research. Restrictions stem from concerns over impacts against particular

commodity interest groups in the United States, however they are broadly

Directed and consequently have much broader impacts. For example, concerns

exist that legislation developed largely as a result of poorly substantiated

charges by particular commodity groups, may in fact undermine broader U.S.

economic and security interests. These broader benefits range from expanding

markets in developing riuntries for U.S. products, including agricultural

products, to conserving and providing access to foreign germplasm important to ,~

U.S. agriculture.

Encouraging a more informed and involved constituency among American

farmers would help ensure that U.S. agricultural development assistance is

consistent with these broad U.S. interests. In support of this, Congress

could direct USDA to develop a public information program directed at

promoting greater understanding of linkages between improvements in the

agricultural sector in LDCs and that of the United States.- Perhaps a joint

program developed through the Cooperative State Research Service (CSRS) and

the Office of International Cooperation and Development (OICD1 could draw

together a program focusing state and local level interests in international

programs. A number of private sector initiatives and educational material

could be drawn upon in such a program. For example, the Consortium for

International Cooperation in Higher Education, in an AID supported project

entitled "Understanding World Agriculture," has developed useful educational

material along these-lines. The University of Minnesota has also carried out


analysis of U.S. Interests in alleviating hunger in poor countries. Private

company support can also be solicited. For example, Pioneer Hi-Bred

International, a major corn seed company in the United States, has supported a

number of fora defining U.S. interests in this area. Developing a program

through USDA that could consolidate and promote public information on U.S.

interest in developing country agriculture could only serve to promote a more

informed constituency, facilitating the process of establishing U.S.

development assistance in line with U.S. interest.


A strategic approach that focuses on LRA's transformation, using

principles such as those described here, will require shifts in the

attitudes, operations, and practices of development assistance.

Option 1:

To help ensure the long-term work necessary to transform LRA, Congress

could take a series of actions that support a long-term approach:

1. Increase the time between reauthorizations of the Foreign Assistance

Act of 1961

2. Increase the time between foreign assistance appropriations

3. Maintain a stable level of funding for African development and

protect it from Executive and congressional diversion of

appropriated funds for non-African political objectives

4. Make Development Assistance the primary form of development aid.



Currently the direction for and funding of foreign assistance'suffers

from shifts in emphases and support. Donor agencies, especially AID, need

long-term constant goals and a stable level of funding under which they can do

long-term planning for and implementation of the activities .necessary for

development. Increasing the life of authorizations and appropriations

(possibly up to 5 years) could provide such a stability. Time gained from

ending the annual or every two year congressional consideration of these

bills, could be spent on in-depth oversight leading to well-grounded

adjustments of the bills. For example, the last authorization of the FAA was

for two years, which allowed the involved committees/subcommittees more time

to investigate development issues rather than focus on reauthorizing the

legislation and addresses immediate concerns.

The level of funding for African development could be stabilized within

the law. In times of budget cutting, African development:funds need to be

protected from unequal cuts (as Congress did for Development Assistance in the

S FY 87 Appropriations Act) and if foreign assistance budgets increase African

funds may deserve proportionately greater increases. The major need is to

maintain stable levels over the long-term so that planning and activities can

be carried out. Reducing the diversion of funds for short-term political

needs will promote more stability. Additionally, so will making DA the

primary form of development aid, partly because it is focused on development

activities and partly because the other types of aid (ESF and food aid) are

more subject to radical shifts in their levels for Africa. ESF levels shift

because of changing U.S. political interests. Current high Levels of

earmarking plus reduced overall Levels of ESF make it an unreliable source of

development aid for Africa.. Food aid levels are subject to shifts because of

changingirecipient needs and changing levels of U.S. excess.

Option 2:

Congress could adjust both the current balance of funding mechanisms used

for development aid and the way in which those funds are used in order to

better support the transformation of LRA. These adjustments include:

1. Making DA the primary source of development assistance to Africa

while ensuring its use for that purpose

2. Making food aid more supportive of development and reducing any

adverse effects it may have on development

3. Ensuring that ESF funds used for development activities are carrying

out U.S. development mandates for Africa


U.S. bilateral assistance for development activities in Africa is funded

through a variety of sources the most important of which are DA, ESF and

PL480. As discussed above, DA is the most applicable form of funding to

support the transformation of LRA partly because Congress has already mandated

that as one of its purposes and partly because the other funding sources are

less reliable over the long-term. In its overall consideration of funding for

Africa, Congress could make DA the primary funding mechanism. Reductions in

the other sources should be offset by increases in DA to maintain stable

funding levels. Additionally, if Congress makes DA the primary source of

funding to Africa, it may neeo to ensur. -hat the increased DA funding is used

to carry out congressional development mandates and not to carry out past ESF



While food aid's importance shifts due to African need and U.S. ability

to respond, there are several ways of making it more supportive-of

development. Congress could have AID address means of increasing the

timeliness of its delivery and compatibility with local foods (in order to

reduce displacement of local harvests and food tastes with imported food).

Congress could have USDA and AID increase the use of trilateral food aid or

increase the U.S. contribution to the World Food Program, a major promoter of

trilateral food aid. Thirdly, the Congress could instruct AID to increase the

direct use of local currencies derived from food aid loans for development

activities supportive of LRA.

If ESF funds remain an important source of development funding then

Congress may wish to have those ESF funds used for development conform to its

mandates for DA. Addiconally, Congress could direct AID to provide ESF for

political and economic purposes in a manner that does not hurt development.


The Agency for International Development is among the groups that must

make such shifts. AID has been constrained in the past by its reward

system, planning process, and organizational structure, for example.


Congress could direct AID to carry out an evaluation on the effects of

AID's operational structure and implementation process on its abilities

to assist LRA development in Africa. Additionally, AID could be directed

to establish a means to implement reL-rms identified by this review. In

support of this reform, Congress could carry out reforms concerning its

own interactions with AID that contribute to AID constraints.



Past OTA work has identified a set of well-known constraints inherent in

AID's.institutional structure. These constraints include:

1. The numbers and skill levels of AID's Africa staff are not

commensurate with the U.S. commitment to Africa. Technical, local

language and cultural skills are lacking and high rates of turnover

interrupt program continuity and make accountability difficult.

2. Program and project design systems are slow and inflexible and

reward the designer and obligator of funds rather the successful

implementor. Paper requirements and procurement bottlenecks hold up

speedy implementation.

3. Monitoring of programs and projects if constrained by limited staff

and evaluation results may be narrowly focused and ineffectively fed

back into the design process.

These constraints and others are familiar to AID. What is needed is a

congressional impetus for AID to address them all and design/implement the

means to reduce their negative effects. AID is already strongly concerned

about its institutional efficiency and Congress may need to ensure that

increased efficiency alone does not become focus of these reforms in place of

increasing AID's ability to support LRA development.

In support of AID reforms, Congress can modify its own actions that

contribute to AID's constraints.. Certain congressional actions cause AID to

spend time in an unproductive manner for development. These actions include:

1. A lack of muttiyear funding wnirh forces AID to choose between

hastily obligating money or losing it.

2. The need for notifications of low-level funding changes


3. A failure to prioritize mandates

4. Translating domestic pressures into demands on AID that may not best

support development (e.g. tied aid).


Implementing a strategic approach in technical areas will require greater

support for adaptive research and on-farm trials with a farming systems

perspective, in order to generate technologies suited to LRAists.


Congress could use its oversight role to ensure that technical assistance

to Africa is effective in benefiting LRAists.


The most effective tool available to Congress to ensure that technical

assistance benefits the LRAists, and to promote an LRA-Strategy, is

oversight. in its oversight of AID, Congress should: (See point "2" of my

first paragraph of p 1; and the more specific suggestions below:]

S Ensure that AID has balanced staff especially between economists

and social and natural scientists. Multidisciplinary perspectives

are necessary to ensure that technical interventions are driven by

farmer-identified problems and are suited to the farmer's social and

economic conditions. More emphasis:is needed for adaptive on-farm


Ensure that contractors have expertise in Low-resource approaches.

Currently, contractors are technically qualified based on Western

disciplines, but do not necessarily have expertise in-low-resource


agriculture. Rodale-International has prepared a roster of

professionals with expertise in sustainable agriculture -- does

USAID use this or have an equivalent?

Ensure that adequate funding is allocated to low-resource

agriculture in the research and technical components of projects.

Oversight is applicable for the World Bank and other development

.agencies, as.well as AID.

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