World Development Report

"'WORLD DEVELOPMENT REPORT"'The World Bank's annual World Development Report (WDR) is a guide to the economic, social and environmental state of the world today. Each year the WDR provides in depth analysis of a specific aspect of development. Past reports have considered such topics as agriculture, youth, equity, public services delivery, the role of the state, transition economies, labour, infrastructure, health, the environment, and poverty. The reports are the Bank's best-known contribution to thinking about development.

The World Development Report is produced on an annual basis and is the Bank's major analytical publication. Each year it focuses on a particular aspect of development selected by the Bank's president. Each World Development Report team is led by a senior Bank staff member who is supported by a team of staff and consultants, under the guidance of the Chief Economist.


World Development Report 2008 calls for greater investment in agriculture in developing countries.The report warns that the sector must be placed at the center of the development agenda if the goals of halving extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 are to be realized.

While 75 percent of the world’s poor live in rural areas in developing countries, a mere 4 percent of official development assistance goes to agriculture.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, a region heavily reliant on agriculture for overall growth, public spending for farming is also only 4 percent of total government spending and the sector is still taxed at relatively high levels.

For the poorest people, GDP growth originating in agriculture is about four times more effective in raising incomes of extremely poor people than GDP growth originating outside the sector.

“A dynamic ‘agriculture for development’ agenda can benefit the estimated 900 million rural people in the developing world who live on less than $1 a day, most of whom are engaged in agriculture,” said Robert B. Zoellick, World Bank Group President. “We need to give agriculture more prominence across the board. At the global level, countries must deliver on vital reforms such as cutting distorting subsidies and opening markets, while civil society groups, especially farmer organizations, need more say in setting the agricultural agenda.”

According to the report, agriculture can offer pathways out of poverty if efforts are made to increase productivity in the staple foods sector; connect smallholders to rapidly expanding high-value horticulture, poultry, aquaculture, as well as dairy markets; and generate jobs in the rural nonfarm economy.

“Agricultural growth has been highly successful in reducing rural poverty in East Asia over the past 15 years,” said Francois Bourguignon, World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, Development Economics. “The challenge is to sustain and expand agriculture’s unique poverty-reducing power, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia where the number of rural poor people is still rising and will continue to exceed the number of urban poor for at least another 30 years.”


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