After years of neglect, agriculture has reemerged as a sector to watch in developed and developing countries. The recent surge in food demand and the associated rise in international food prices have revitalized agriculture: Countries that have maintained a strong sector have benefited in terms of greater opportunities in agricultural and processed food exports. They are also able to ensure that their own people have available and affordable food. Countries with underachieving or limited agriculture sectors, by contrast, may face an upward spiral of shortages and increasing food subsidies.
These emerging trends and deep-seated shifts are repositioning the sector for increased investment and innovation, and placing it at the forefront of government policy. As a result, countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are redirecting their attention toward reforming and strengthening the agriculture sector. Their aim is to transform it into an engine for economic growth, job creation, and international trade.
To realize this goal, MENA policymakers must first evaluate the availability and quality of their basic resources: arable land, water, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, farm labor, and capital. Those countries that conclude their basic resources do offer a strong basis for reform should consider three critical steps to transform the agriculture sector: assess the sector’s strengths and weaknesses, develop a comprehensive transformation plan to better position the sector for growth, and evaluate the plan’s impact on the national economy.
A Strategy& analysis of Egypt’s agriculture sector provides a case study that illustrates how these steps were applied in a real-world setting.