Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Mutual Accountability Opens Private Sector Opportunities in African Agriculture

This post was written by James Oehmke, USAID Bureau for Food Security, with Dina Towbin, Social Impact.

While my past blog posts highlighted the complex agricultural transformation process and the stakeholders involved, the idea of “mutual accountability” is an important concept in understanding how multistakeholder processes support transformation. Today we examine mutual accountability through the lens of African agriculture.

What is mutual accountability? It is a process by which two or more partners agree to be held responsible for the commitments that they have voluntarily made to each other. The underlying concept, as refined in the Malabo Declaration — endorsed by African heads of state in June 2014 — is that inclusive, agriculture-led growth is a complex development process requiring both systemic and thematic change that works best when all stakeholders are aligned, contributing and benefitting.

Let’s review the four essential parts of this process as used in Africa:

  1. Country ownership of an agreed-upon plan to accelerate inclusive agricultural growth and other sectoral goals, such as increased trade, job growth and reductions in hunger and poverty (as in the Malabo Declaration).
  2. Voluntary commitments by all stakeholders to take actions consistent with their missions and contribute to the plan.
  3. Responsible execution of individual commitments and verifiable reporting out on such execution.
  4. Joint responsibility to ensure that the commitments portfolio is sufficient to make meaningful progress toward plan goals and achieve its targets.

To see African mutual accountability in action, take a look at the CAADP Round II National Agricultural Investment Plans and Joint Sector Reviews or the African Union Biennial Review.

Mutual accountability can also arise from bottom-up processes. For example, when private sector fertilizer suppliers and farmers’ organizations work together to ensure that fertilizer supplies are timely, genuine and appropriate to farmer conditions and that farmers understand and use fertilizer optimally to generate income growth and become consistent fertilizer purchasers and users. Uganda’s AgInvest platform supported by the USAID/Uganda Feed the Future Agricultural Inputs Activity is a good example.

For the private sector, mutual accountability processes provide a critical entry point, particularly when opening a dialogue with the government and other stakeholders on policy systems to use private investment to accelerate inclusive agricultural growth. Companies looking for new opportunities may find this to be an opportune time to investigate African agricultural investment.

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