Africa is a vast continent that shows remarkably diverse levels of economic growth. While some countries are developing new important instruments and policies resulting in a significant improvement of their living conditions, others are still progressing towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1 (No poverty) and 2 (Zero hunger).
A modern and sustainable approach to agriculture is key to addressing rural poverty and ending hunger. To successfully achieve those objectives, new policies, advanced technologies and modern social schemes in agriculture are needed. The shift towards new agricultural systems based on public-private partnerships is essential to build inclusive and sustainable collaborations with a positive impact on small-scale producers. In this context, South-South and triangular cooperation (SSTC) plays a crucial role in fostering regional integration and knowledge sharing.
Towards a Solution
In 2008, Morocco launched the Plan Maroc Vert (PMV), an ambitious strategy aimed at transforming the Moroccan agricultural sector into a substantial leveraging agent for socio-economic development.
The implementation of the PMV has led to significant improvements: indeed, as a result of its proactive policy, Morocco increased the rate of public and private investments in agriculture, creating new job opportunities and improving the performance of the agricultural sector, both economically and socially. Building on the positive results achieved over the past decade, Morocco is now focused on assuming a leadership role in sharing its experience and expertise with other African countries.
In this context, within the framework of the Atlas Mountain Rural Development Project, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) allocated a US$ 1,000,000 grant to the Government of Morocco to pursue this vision and to play an active role in the Atlas Mountain Rural Development/South-South and Triangular Cooperation Programme. The aim is to promote the transfer of Morocco’s lessons learned through a scaling-up of best practices and agricultural development policies in sub-Saharan African countries.
The initial phase of this programme started in 2018 with Madagascar and Côte d`Ivoire, with an intensive phase of meetings, consultations and missions, which led all actors to clearly identify the needs and specific areas for engagement.
These initial activities introduced a participatory mechanism that led to a concrete action plan which identified the following priority thematic areas: (i) a cross-cutting pillar on strategies and policies; (ii) a second pillar focused on production and value chain development; and (iii) a third pillar focused on the territorial dimension and the adoption of the ‘agropole’ concept. Morocco established the agropoles as public entities that aim at creating agri-food competitiveness clusters to foster linkages with the private sector and promote private investments while creating employment opportunities through modernized agricultural production systems.
Morocco’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Development, Water and Forests is working in close collaboration with Madagascar’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries to develop policy support tools through a diversified approach for smallholder farming and private sector engagement.
As a result of this process, a landmark achievement is the drafting of the agriculture orientation law in Madagascar, providing an enabling legal framework for private sector engagement with smallholder farmers. Other important processes are still underway, such as the drafting of an aggregation law that will relate to the agriculture inter-professional regulatory frameworks in Madagascar.
Inspired by the Moroccan experience, Madagascar is also looking into financial instruments that can revitalize and optimize the performance of the Agricultural Development Fund. Morocco shared its knowledge on the guichet unique (one-stop shop), the traceability of files and computer-based systems that ensure coherence between agricultural financing and public budgeting systems.
This work entails the development of innovative tools for effective partnerships between government, the private sector, financial institutions and insurance companies, with toolkits and learning packages based on the experience of the Moroccan Agricultural Development Fund and other agricultural credit instruments.
In terms of good production practices and value chain development, a series of workshops took place in Morocco, Madagascar and Côte d’Ivoire, and provided technicians and trainers with training in the fields of artificial insemination, irrigation practices and product labelling.
In addition, this project has been instrumental in the creation of the Ifrane Centre of Excellence for Agricultural South-South Cooperation (Morocco), a fully-fledged institution for implementing the strategic vision of the Government of Morocco in pursuing its SSTC agenda and ensuring the sustainability of the project.
This project has a strong focus on policy and is twinned with training, technical backstopping and technology transfer for sustainable and climate-resilient agricultural practices to ensure the environmental sustainability of the proposed changes.
Not only is the initiative sustainable, but it is also largely replicable. Indeed, the Union of the Comoros and Niger have already expressed a strong interest in pursuing a similar approach with Morocco. The variety of innovative tools that the PMV involves and the commitment that the Moroccan Government has demonstrated that this initiative is a good practice, one in which IFAD plays a fundamental role in brokering and financing for a mutual benefit. This is a triple win-win cooperation that can be further scaled up.