Last week the World Bank published its 2008 'World Development Report'. This weighty report, whose colour graphics alone must cost a small country's GDP to produce, sums up 50 years of experience in supporting (and not supporting) agriculture with a simple message:
"Agriculture is good for growth and even better for poverty reduction - but it is only effective with the right public policies and in many cases aid."
This may not seem particularly surprising, but it's welcome nonetheless. Since the report was commissioned under former President Wolfensohn, it will be interesting to see if Robert Zoellick (during whose time as US Trade Representative the US increased its huge, trade-distorting subsidies to cotton growers) follows up the rhetoric with loan dollars.
The report is at the World Bank's site but for a quick summary, see this from the New York Times.