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Sustainable modernization of agriculture and rural transformation in Africa


Agricultural development is of fundamental importance for the achievement of sustainable development and broad-based economic growth, directly linked to food security and poverty reduction in Africa. Africa is the only continent where rural poverty has been increasing and per capita food production has been declining over the last two decades.

The Green Revolution of the mid-1960s, which brought increases in food production and rural incomes and the sustainable modernization of agriculture and rural transformation elsewhere in the world, largely missed Africa. The Green Revolution did not take hold in Africa largely because it was not designed for the continent’s diverse agro-ecological zones, farming systems and sociocultural contexts. However, the need for African countries and their global partners to promote a Green Revolution in Africa so as to help the continent move towards self-sufficiency in food, reduction of hunger and eradication of poverty is more urgent than ever.

An African Green Revolution may be an important vehicle for attaining sustainable modernization of agriculture and rural transformation. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development, through its Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme and its science and technology platform for agriculture, offers broad policies. Several countries, notably Uganda and Ethiopia, have declared ambitious plans for modernization of agriculture, while Kenya has indicated that it will use the Green Revolution for social transformation. The African Union, the Southern African Development Community and the Economic Community of West African States have made commitments to support the sustainable modernization of agriculture and rural transformation (SMART). The indicators involved relate to the status of national farming communities, their natural resource endowments and agricultural management capacities, and the national/regional SMART driving forces of technology, infrastructure, institutions and policies (TIIP). The project is designed to assist selected countries in applying the knowledge gained in these areas and will be executed by ECA, in collaboration with ESCAP, ECLAC and ESCWA and with national and international researchers and institutions.


To enhance member countries’ knowledge and capacity for the design of sustainable modernization of agriculture and rural transformation to help Africa move towards self-sufficiency in food.

Expected accomplishments:

  • Increased knowledge among member countries of SMART and TIIP indicators of readiness and potential
  • Enhanced awareness of best design practices of SMART and TIIP
  • Improved national capacity for SMART and TIIP design in member countries

Implementation status:

Overall, the implementation of the project was successful.The project framework recognized (i) the critical importance of raising awareness of the existence of many agricultural success stories/good practices in Africa, (ii) the need to carry out field assessment studies on these stories and to share the lessons learned throughout Africa and (iii) the need to encourage the adaptation, replication and or up-scaling of the good practices. The success of the training workshops as recognized by the participants attest to the goodness of the underlying framework. The long-term field impact will, however, depend to the extent to which countries use effectively the knowledge they acquired through the project.

Project Resources: http://www.uneca.org/fssdd/smart-agr/