Jointly formulated and negotiated agricultural policies
The liberalisation of trade and decentralisation of decision-making since the 1990s resulted in:
- public policy reforms
- State disengagement and the emergence of increasingly powerful new actors as drivers of agricultural policies (particularly actors from civil society and the private sector)
- the promotion of public-private partnerships.
The mixed results of liberalisation policies and growing power of these new actors subsequently prompted the public authorities to re-engage with the agricultural sector. This in turn led to:
- A reorientation of agricultural policies to correct market failures and provide public goods (that the market cannot deliver), regulate competition, enable actors to access information, develop services (agricultural credit and insurance) and reduce inequalities. These objectives are pursued through joint, coordinated actions by the State, the market and collective endeavours.
- Actors repositioning themselves and redefining their roles. Civil society actors need to establish their positions, improve their negotiating and decision-making skills, and access up-to-date information so that they can help formulate public policies that address people’s needs and expectations. The State has also regained its legitimacy as an actor that intervenes directly on issues such as social protection, food security stocks, improving agricultural credit, etc.
- Changing support for policy formulation. Policy support has shifted from assisting State-led decisions to supporting negotiations and consultations between several types of actor: public authorities (central and local governments), private operators and socio-professional organisations.
Current moves to integrate regional trade policies – through recently signed or forthcoming economic partnership agreements (EPA) between the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries – also present new challenges for the developing countries concerned: competition over their agricultural markets, loss of customs revenues that are essential to State budgets, etc. These countries are now asking for impact analyses of the commercial and fiscal effects of these EPAs on their economies, and governments and civil society organisations are raising questions about their own and other countries’ levels of openness and trade protection.