After WWI development/reconstruction was dominated by the Marshall Plan, which pretty much was a vehicle for the US to invest funds where the US thought best.
My first trip to Africa was a visit to Senegal in the mid-1980s. The farmers I was working with were peanut farmers, but no one was helping them with peanuts because the US peanut lobby didn’t want competition. I asked why couldn’t we help with wheat, but the Canadians had claimed that commodity. What was the US working on? Corn.
In the mid-1990s USAID went to Uganda and made an offer to help create a regional research organization that would assist countries in achieving their national agricultural research goals, be eligible to receive donor funding, spend funds on African priorities including a small grants activity that would support proposals for collaborative work among African scientists in the region and with proposals being reviewed and funded in a transparent process based on the quality of proposal.
I was privileged to be at the meeting where this offer was tendered by USAID (with a previously brokered agreement) and accepted by Dr. Joseph Mukiibi, then Director of the Uganda National Agricultural Research Organization. In his acceptance speech Dr. Mukiibi likened African pursuit of donor funds for expenditure on African priorities to his courtship of his wife. “One
day”, Dr. Mukiibi said, “walking to work I saw at the bus stop the most beautiful woman in the world. So I stopped and introduced myself and asked her to marry me. She laughed and said no. But every day I made a practice of talking to her at the bus stop, and as she was getting on the bus, I always asked her to marry me. And she always laughed and said no. Then one day, as she was getting on the bus, she turned to me and said ‘Yes!’ . As I watched the bus pull away I thought, Oh s**t, what do I do now?”
The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa was created out of that process and remains a successful, African-owned research organization today.
The New Partnership for Africa's Development was adopted by the African Heads of State of the OAU in 2001 and ratified by the African Union in 2002 as the primary regional development body. The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) is NEPAD’s flagship program for promoting agricultural development to enhance growth and reduce poverty and hunger. The success of ASARECA as an African owned organization successfully investing in agricultural growth was a significant contributory factor that helped enable the emergence of CAADP.
The success of CAADP was a significant contributory factor that helped enable the emergence of this week’s G8 agreement to support the African-owned New Alliance for nutrition and food security.