By Thierry Hoza Ngoga, AGRA’s Head of Support to State capability
State capability, the ability of government to administer effectively, defines a political system. A government must be able to produce and deliver economic and social goods as its populace expects, since if able to steer adequately its economic system, it will ultimately succeed. This makes the building of state capacity the one of the most transforming devices in African development.
In recent years, African governments, often working in partnership with third parties, have accelerated growth using new-style programmes to build public sector capacity. This has allowed governments to harness innovation, learn lessons from the past and enlist the enthusiasm of the leaders who matter.
Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has found that supporting flagship programmes is one of the most effective ways in which it can support governments in their quest for agricultural transformation. Using global best practice to spearhead the targeting of resources unites activities under a single focus that can then be adapted by local offices. It allows smaller, ad hoc initiatives to continue alongside, but the strategic intent of a flagship program is the relentless focus on making an impact in a chosen issue area to deliver on a key priority of the government while leveraging its assets, operations and core capabilities. Most importantly, it is a way to tell the story in a way that is easy for others to join and support a flagship program. This is because it is clearer to see the intent and therefore buy in to it.
The design and launch of an inaugural agricultural flagship programme is critical as it becomes the template for future endeavours and provides a modus operandi for others to follow. A true standard-bearer program can only be the result of a collaborative process involving government players, private sector partners, development partners and other interested parties that all work together to hone the specific issues to tackle, allocate the necessary resources, forge the right partnerships for implementation and ensure a measurement framework is in place. Finally, it must be aligned to the government’s overarching agricultural development strategy and vision.
There are 5 key steps as to how AGRA supports governments to achieve an agricultural flagship program:
The process embeds a tried and tested path to scaling up sustainable agriculture interventions while building institutions and systems. It includes a way of facilitating the role of private sector investors and brings together all key agricultural stakeholders in the effective delivery of agriculture programmes. By encapsulating the very best practice of leading-light programmes with proven track records it is possible to emulate their success, build on lessons learnt and avoid past pitfalls, allowing governments to make the most of limited resources while enhancing their capabilities.
Strong partnerships with government and its understanding of the African agricultural landscape mean AGRA is ideally placed to support this process. They work with governments on the deliberate prioritisation of programmes at the highest level of leadership to produce up to date and evidence-based policies, including delivery mechanisms and mutual accountability frameworks. Supporting flagship programmes is key to helping millions of smallholder farmers in the quest to reduce poverty and hunger in Africa.