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World Development Report 2008 - Agriculture for Development

Published by The World Bank
Website: www.worldbank.org
2007, 355pp, ISBN 978 0 8213 6807 7(Pb), £13.95

The last World Development Report on agriculture was published a quarter of a century ago and the pressing need for the international community to once again establish agriculture at the centre of development efforts is reflected in this timely treatise. The crux of it is that while most of the world's 880 million people, who live on less than US$1 per day, live in rural areas and depend on farming, directly or indirectly, for their livelihoods, only four per cent of official development assistance is channelled into agriculture. This World Bank report calls for efforts to address this anomaly in aid and to progress towards the United Nations' Millennium Development Goal on poverty and hunger.

But the importance of agriculture is not simply considered as a means of alleviating poverty and establishing food security for smallholder farmers. Agricultural growth is seen here as an important means of kick-starting economic growth as a whole in developing countries, leading to improved livelihoods through multiple ripple effects.

Over the course of 11 chapters, the report takes an in-depth look at the ways the international community can help give agriculture in developing countries the boost it needs to achieve this. Packed full of facts, figures, case studies and policy prescriptions, the report also contains detailed sections on the omnipresent biofuels debate, role of agribusiness in development, benefits of genetically-modified organisms and the need to tackle climate change.

Transforming agriculture to benefit the world's poor requires huge effort from international organisations and world governments. As World Bank Group President, Robert B Zoellick, says "We must level the playing field of international trade; provide global public goods... help developing countries address climate change; and overcome the looming health pandemics for plants, animals and humans." This is no easy task, but it needs to be addressed with the clock ticking.

Date published: January 2008


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