To meet all the challenges of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, agricultural and food systems will require fundamental changes. However, transformation will not come about without a cost. The context and the backdrop question at the backdrop were the following: How to finance pathways that could pave the way for the 2030 transformative objectives in the agricultural sector, in a context where the share of government expenditure dedicated to ODA and agricultural investment is declining?

Despite the private sector’s increasing interest in farmland and agriculture—which could eventually overtake the role of the public sector’s role—leading international organisations contend that more public investment is needed. They estimate that around 60% of the additional investment required to achieve the SDGs would need to be publicly financed. According to the latter, public policies remain at the cornerstone of the agricultural sector’s sustainable transformation for the potential leverage effect on private investment and their capacity to build enabling environments through the provision of public goods. We have tested this argument, through the analysis of national programmes aimed at developing such political ecosystems in various countries—namely the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and associated National agricultural investment plans (NPIAs), the Green Morocco Plan, and the Agricultural Transformation Pathways initiative (ATPi) in Uruguay focusing on backcasting.[1] We have mapped out the key success factors and assessed against these the performance of the three national programmes. The key success factors were partly missing—a result which entails significant implications for ODA targeting.

[1] “Backcasting” denotes a process in which a target is fixed for a future date, and then a pathway towards achieving that target is identified by moving backward in time. 

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