At a recent Pretoria conference, Professor Carl Eicher, professor emeritus at Michigan State University in the United States presented an over-view of the last fifty years of agriculture in Africa.
Donor fatigue has set in with regard to African agriculture, because results are simply not there.Africa has moved from experiencing occasional drought-induced food shortages to a "long-term structural food-deficit position", according to Eicher
The biggest mistake made during the early post-colonial period was to imagine that Africa could be "fixed" by imposing Western systems on the new nations, and then waiting for them to succeed.The goal, according to Eicher
, was to transform Africa from agrarian societies into industrial nations.Grandiose projects were introduced, but most of them failed due to wars, internecine struggles, corruption, poor leadership, incompetence and the will to work, were not obliterated through the Western systems.The Marshall plan for Africa didn't work
In the early seventies, donors poured billions of dollars into rural development projects, but the rural poor stayed poor.Dr. Eicher
talks of "thousands of failed rural development projects".Research conducted by the World Bank
concluded that most foreign aid had "gone down the drain".More so-called food security initiatives (FSI) were launched, focusing on increasing smallholder productivity as a cornerstone of food security.
As the poor became poorer, "poverty alleviation:" became the focus of aid agencies in the 1990s. (In the new millennium, famine has become the issue!).
Agriculture still accounts for 70% of rural employment in Africa, while Africa's food-aid dependence is increasing, according to Dr. Eicher