While e-collaborate focuses on educational issues, it is important to grasp the cyclical nature of global human and economic development. Separate facets of the development process do not exist in a vacuum, but rather progress in one area is related to and reinforced by progress in others. Some sectors have been shown to have particularly high multiplier effects on the development process. Aid to and investment in agriculture is one such sector.
Although historically aid to agriculture made up a large part of official development assistance, investment in agriculture as a share of the international aid budget, and as a share of domestic budgets in the developing world has been decreasing. That is a worrying trend because of the interconnectedness between agriculture and all other development goals. The pro-poor impact of investment in agriculture makes it an essential part of a successful development agenda. Since small-scale farmers are among the most economically disenfranchised people in the world, and agriculture is the single largest global employment sector, increasing the livelihoods of agricultural workers would drastically reduce poverty rates. Aid to agriculture has also shown much higher rates of return on investment than other types of aid, both in terms of overall economic growth and in poverty reduction.
Since agriculture in the developing world is still primarily undertaken by women, it is also centrally connected to gender empowerment and equity. Improving the lives and incomes of women benefits the entire family, as women have been proved to be more likely to spend their income on health and educational purchases than men are.
An efficient global or national agricultural system can ensure that all citizens have access to the amount of calories, nutrients and micronutrients they need to be as successful and productive as possible and to avoid physical and mental stunting. Access to sufficient calories and nutrients can also ensure a plethora of positive changes, improved infant and maternal health, and increased educational attainment.
The solutions to development issues are as complicated as the problems themselves. Thus, in undertaking development projects it is important to examine the interconnectedness of the root causes. Just as investment in agriculture can and does lead to increased education attainment, non-investment inhibits educational prospects. While we continue to provide educational tools and experiences around the world, education initiatives need to be carried out in the context of larger investments in agriculture and other important sectors, because a tool ceases to be effective when the target populations aren’t sufficiently empowered to take advantage of them.