African Agriculture

Oral Answers to Questions — Overseas Development – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th July 1987.

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Photo of Mr Russell Johnston Mr Russell Johnston , Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber 12:00 am, 20th July 1987

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his Department's aid to African agriculture.

Photo of Mr Chris Patten Mr Chris Patten , Bath

Preliminary estimates indicate that some 30 per cent. of our bilateral aid programme for Africa in 1986 was spent on agriculture and related activities, and that total British aid expenditure on these activities last year, through both bilateral and multilateral channels taken together, amounted to about £140 million.

Photo of Mr Russell Johnston Mr Russell Johnston , Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber

Nevertheless, does the Minister agree that small-scale agricultural development is vital in establishing self-sufficiency in food in African countries and that in 1984 only 15 per cent. of our bilateral aid was allocated to agriculture and related economic developments, compared with about 55 per cent. that was devoted to energy developments?

Photo of Mr Chris Patten Mr Chris Patten , Bath

I am not sure that I can agree with the hon. Gentleman's figures. About 30 per cent. of our bilateral programme goes to agriculture and related projects in Africa. I agree with him about the importance of supporting small-scale agriculture, and agriculture generally. That is why we made a contribution to the International Fund for Agricultural Development's special programme for Africa. That was one of the motivations in our successful efforts to reform the European Community's food aid policy.