Agricultural Policy Priorities for Improving Rural Livelihoods in Southern Africa: Regional Synthesis

Agriculture has long been recognized as a source of livelihood for the African poor rural households as well as the engine for economic growth. The ability of households to exchange/move surpluses from regions of comparative advantage to regions with less potential within a country or across national borders is an important ingredient towards the growth of agriculture and improvement of rural livelihoods. Moving agricultural products and services among countries requires conducive policies that stimulate and facilitate trade. The objective of harmonizing policies in the SADC region is important and is not at all new in the region. The underpinning assumption is that trade is beneficial and contributes to rural livelihoods improvement as households are able to produce more and dispose surpluses, earn more income and diversify into production of high added value. Improving rural livelihoods can be achieved by accelerating the shift towards a more commercially oriented small-scale agricultural sector, producing goods for identified markets as this has a multiplier effect into other non-farm sectors, which further contribute towards stimulating economic growth