General News Mon, 1 Sep 2008

"Marshall Plan" for Farmers

Accra, Sept. 1, GNA - Africa can only and truly benefit from aid when donors design the assistance just like the "US Marshall Plan," which helped Europe to develop, a West African network of farmers organisations has said in Accra.

Speaking at a press conference two days ahead of the Accra Third High Level Forum of the Aid Effectiveness Conference, the group said: "Government aid as it is now cannot really develop Africa" and it can only do so when it was framed in the context of the Marshall Plan where Europe received the aid without strings attachment.

The Network of Peasant and Agricultural Producers organisations in West Africa, known in French acronym as ROPPA, said what Africa needed was a decentralised form of aid without policy conditionality but with vigorous local participation in a transparent manner.

Mr Lawani Arouna, an Executive Member of ROPPA, who made the recommendation, also explained that the Marshal Plan was feasible because sometimes the exception was rather the rule. He said: "We (Africa) should be in the position where donors will rather complain that we (beneficiary nations) were not taking the aid".

He said the Marshall programme was the primary plan of the United States, which rebuilt and created a stronger foundation for the allied countries of Europe according to their plans and needs after the world war.

Mr Ndiogou Fall, President of ROPPA said the Network's studies on aid usage in countries such as Mali, Ghana, and Senegal indicated that tied aid and policy conditionality were the major reasons why aid has failed to help African countries in particular.


He said, besides, the findings also identified that there were too many intermediaries to aid disbursement and as a result the trickled-down effect on the people at the grassroots was minimal, adding the principle of country ownership has never been achieved.

Mr Fall noted that for the last 20 years Official Development Assistance (ODA) from donors to the agricultural sector especially took a nosedive, declining from sharply from 39 percent to 17 percent. ROPPA, he said, believed aid must only play a complementary role and not to directly influence policies of beneficiary nations. He said African governments should strengthen their country systems that would promote domestic resource mobilisation since that was more sustainable and reliable to meeting the development needs.

Dr King-David Amoah, President of the Farmers Organisations Network of Ghana (FONG) said at present ROPPA was providing technical support in order to mobilise all small farmer groups in Ghana under one umbrella body.

He said the voice of farmers have been downplayed for far too long, which explained why the world too day was facing food crisis. The Third High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, which would take place from September 2 to 4 this year, is expected to attract Presidents, Ministers and head of multilateral and bilateral development agencies, donors, and global civil society organisations from more than 100 countries.

It would take stock of the progress made in implementing the Paris Declaration commitments, identify bottlenecks and challenges, and determine actions donors and partners countries to take to make aid more effective.

Source: GNA