The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has launched a new phase of its agricultural policy initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa, following the announcement of an $11 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

This will be the third phase of the ‘Monitoring and Analysing Food and Agricultural Policies programme’ (MAFAP), which will cover Burkina Faso; Ethiopia; Ghana; Kenya; Mozambique; Nigeria; Rwanda and Uganda.

The FAO says that over 20 important agricultural policy reforms have already been brought about across Sub-Saharan Africa, as a result of the MAFAP programme which has been running for more than a decade.

This phase of the programme will take place over the next five years and is now more crucial than ever, as the countries grapple with tight budgets following the pandemic, according to the FAO.

Within the programme, the countries will be encouraged to use data driven methods in developing reforms that will lead to economic recovery and a more inclusive rural transformation.

Other key goals of it include identifying priority areas for scaling up investment, achieving more transparent markets and trade and developing more nutritious agri-food systems.

FAO chief economist Maximo Torero Cullen said that recent spikes in food, energy and fertiliser costs have hurt farmers, producers, consumers and families in these countries:

“To avoid a food crisis, we must monitor what is happening and react with timely policies. We need double dimension action: short term to respond to these shocks, and medium to long term to achieve the 2030 UN sustainable development goals.”

Throughout the cycle of developing these policies, MAFAP will engage with the countries’ governments as well as the key stakeholders, including farmers, agribusiness representatives, civil society and research organisations.

When these policies are adopted, the programme will also provide further support throughout their implementation, helping the countries to prioritise resource allocation and evaluate the effects of the new policies.