Ed Rackely’s post on Congo’s recently launched National Investment Plan for Agriculture offers a realistic analysis of some of the country’s challenges in modernizing the agriculture sector. He mentions correctly that there is not enough funding to reach targets. I would add that the little money that is available is largely spent on salaries in Kinshasa with minimal trickle down into the field.
But it is not only a money problem.
On the institutional landscape, there is an overall lack of professionalism and capacity in terms of human resources and material. Government offices responsible for agricultural priorities are under-funded, under-staffed and in need of competent experts with up-to-date professional skills and vision. They also lack data management systems and basic equipment such as phones, copiers and computers.
An additional hurdle is the number of Ministries involved in managing the sector. The Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Rural Development, the Ministry of Environment Conservation, Water and Forests, the Ministry of Scientific and Technological Research and the Ministry of Women and the Family all share rural development and agricultural objectives. In theory, the Ministry of Planning coordinates the financing of these five ministries but is, in reality, overwhelmed with other urgencies.
The problem here is that when priorities are supposed to be dealt with by multiple partners, no one really does anything. There is an absence of coordination, tasks get passed on to someone else, disagreements over costs surface and there tends to be a generalized absence of accountability or ownership.