Strategy as a Vision and a Unifying Document

A strategy is a consistency framework for bringing together diverse policy initiatives in an overarching logical structure that adopts a medium- or long-term view of the sector's prospects. Chapter 2 of this volume discusses the usefulness of a strategy for ensuring consistency among proposed policies, for linking them to national development goals, and for ensuring that the coverage of areas needing reform is sufficiently comprehensive.

A defining characteristic of a strategy is that it presents an integral approach to development issues. A viable and solid strategy, one that is capable of being implemented and that can move the sector forward, must have a solid conceptual framework, and its policy proposals must be developed according to rigorous technical criteria. If this is not the case, then the strategy may become a shopping list and forfeit much of its persuasive power. It should not be overlooked, however, that a successful strategy also is more than a technical document: it is a vision and a rallying cry. It is a vision in that it presents fresh

Agricultural Development Policy Concepts and Experiences. R. D. Norton

© 2004 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

ISBNs: 0-470-85778-1 (HB) 0-470-85779-X (PB) FAO Edition: 92-5-104875-4

possibilities for the sector and a path to attain them. One of its principal roles is to show a feasible way to fulfill legitimate aspirations of the rural population. It is a rallying cry because, if successful, it can become a means of mobilizing support for the vision and its implementation. Agricultural sectors are populous and very diverse, and therefore a compelling vision of the sector's potentiality is necessary in order to mobilize support. By the same token, without widespread backing it cannot progress beyond the status of another technical study.

Support for a strategy should to be developed on at least three principal fronts:

• The producers - more broadly, rural families -on whose behalf it is formulated and without whose active assent and participation it cannot be fully implemented.

• The government, in its various manifestations, which must lead the effort of implementation. Governments are agglomerations of individuals with differing and sometimes conflicting viewpoints, and so achieving a sufficient level of consensus in government requires a multi-faceted and sustained institutional dialog.

• International development agencies, whose agreement and financing are required for successful implementation of a strategy.

To the extent possible, a strategy should also strike a largely receptive chord with other segments of the population and with opinion leaders in general, even though many groups will be less involved in its development and therefore less interested in it. If it generates active opposition in influential sectors, gaining approval for it and implementing it are likely to become much more difficult.

This chapter reviews some of the main issues involved in the process of developing an agricultural or rural strategy, utilizing illustrations from the author's advisory work on strategy-building efforts in Honduras, Guyana, Estonia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Mozambique, plus information on experiences in other countries. The chapter then discusses the substance of strategic orientations of

The difficulties of carrying out policy reforms without having mobilized sufficient support were illustrated in the case of the Kenyan Cereal Sector Reform Program, which was part of a structural adjustment program:

. . . the inconsistency in implementation of the CSRP is substantially the result of neglect of the political dimension in the reform process, with no culture of reform being developed in the pre-reform period. Specifically, it is suggested that if the designers and managers of the CSRP had taken the trouble to provide adequate information on the expected benefits of the reforms, the process would have received more consistent support. This is evident from the behaviour of market actors, particularly the sifted maize millers and politicians with stakes in maize milling and the food distributive trade, who opposed reforms initially but later supported them. . . . the absence of full backing by the President and Cabinet, and lack of understanding by all interest groups of the likely benefits and costs, did create uncertainties and conflicts of interest which turned out to be more apparent than real. These contributed to inconsistent implementation and avoidable conflict between donors and government. It is suggested that managing the politics of reform is a task that was neglected and should be explicitly incorporated in such programmes. (From Peter M. Lew a and Michael Hubbard, 'Kenya's Cereal Sector Reform Programme: managing the politics of reform', Food Policy, 20(6), December 1995, pp. 573-574)

agricultural development policies, presents material on rural development programs and reviews criteria for allocating resources in such programs.

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