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Frequently Asked Questions

These are the most frequently asked questions about the Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) project. If your question is not listed below, please write to us at eba@worldbank.org and we will get back to you with a response.

  •  What is Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA)?
    EBA is a World Bank Group initiative that identifies and monitors regulations and policies that affect agriculture and agribusiness markets. The project presents globally comparable data that can help create an environment that is conducive to local, regional, and international business in agriculture. The initiative began in 2013 in response to a call from the G8 asking for the World Bank “to develop options for generating a Doing Business in Agriculture Index”. The project is supported by a number of donor organization and partners, including Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Department for International Development (DFID), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Government of the Netherlands.
  •  Which countries does the project cover?

    Current data and analysis are available for 62 countries, including: Armenia, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Denmark, Egypt, Arab Rep., Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Rep., Kyrgyz Republic, Lao PDR, Liberia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Senegal, Serbia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

    A subnational approach on India was piloted in 4 different states to track state level differences and will build on it for future data collection and analytical work. EBA is working to identify countries where a subnational analysis would be most appropriate and develop a subnational methodology that could be used on-demand in a manner similar to the Doing Business subnational analyses and reports.

    Future reports will allow the team to monitor progress of countries in each of the topic areas by tracking regulatory reforms that affect the indicators measured. Country coverage is also expected to expand to cover between 80 and 100 countries.


  •  How are countries selected?

    To select the countries where EBA indicators would be relevant and useful, the team analyzed the importance of the agricultural sector in all countries by looking at the contribution of agriculture to GDP and employment. The countries were grouped into 5 categories: Agriculture-based, Pre-transition, Transition, Urbanized and Developed.

    To select the countries to be included in the pilot phase, several additional criteria were applied. For example, countries with small agricultural sectors (defined as having agriculture value added at PPP of less than US$1 billion) were excluded unless the population employed in agriculture is more than 100,000 people. 

    From an initial selection of 108 countries, to select the 10 pilot countries and subsequent scale ups to 40 and 62 countries, the team made sure that the countries represented different geographical regions and income groups.

  •  How can EBA data be used?

    The globally comparable nature of EBA data allows policymakers to learn from good regulatory practices elsewhere in the world. As such, policy makers and legislators can use EBA data as a starting point to guide and structure policy discussions and reform efforts.  Similarly, EBA data can be used by private sector institutions, civil society organizations and academics to promote reform of burdensome and inefficient agricultural regulations. Multilateral organizations, global finance institutions, development agencies and policy operational specialists may also use EBA data as a way to inform their own activities, understand the regulatory context of specific initiatives, and monitor progress. 

    More broadly, EBA hopes to stimulate more research on how regulations affect various outcome variables in the agricultural sector.  

  •  How can EBA indicators be used to track the Sustainable Development Goals?

    Agriculture connects all 17 SDGs and is at the core of SDG1 and SDG2, which call for ending extreme poverty and hunger. The link between EBA and the SDGs is twofold: on the one hand, the SDG targets were considered in the refinement of EBA’s indicators; on the other hand, specific data points from EBA may serve as metrics for tracking countries’ progress on SDG objectives. 

    EBA has specific links to a number of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Target 1.4 (Access to Basic Services), Target 2.5 (Genetic Diversity of Cultivated Plants), Target 6.3 (Improving Water Quality), Target 6.4 (Efficient and Sustainable Water Withdrawals), Target 6.5 (Integrated Water Resource Management), Target 9.3 (Enterprise Access to Financial Services) and Target 9c (Access to Information and Communications Technology), among others. Please see Box 1.2 of the EBA 2017 report for more information.

  •  Are EBA indicators relevant for smallholder farmers?

    EBA indicators promote laws and regulations that are conducive to good governance, inclusive value chains, competition, market transparency, food safety and private sector development. In this context, attention to smallholder farmers is a key feature of the EBA indicators. For example:

    • EBA Water indicators measure key elements within legal frameworks that impact farmers’ access to sufficient quantities of water, at an adequate quality level and at the time and location needed for crop production.
    • EBA Land indicators measure laws that ensure expropriation is transparent and limited to public purposes, and that create effective appeals mechanisms. While provision of infrastructure and reallocation of agricultural land for industry and urban expansion can provide significant social benefits, having to fear land being expropriated without adequate compensation or due process can undermine investment incentives, lead to over-acquisition of land from a social point of view, and precipitate conflict. 
    • EBA Market indicators measure minimum capital requirements for the establishment of producer organizations. While governments may choose to impose minimum capital requirements to address undercapitalization issues, EBA indicators advocate for these costs be relatively low so that farmers can still afford to consolidate. 
    • Data collected for EBA Gender also seek to recognize and give voice to women smallholder farmers and the fundamental role they already play in rural economies. 
    • One of the four EBA Environmental Sustainability areas covers laws and regulations that facilitate the availability of local varieties, by recognizing farmer’s rights to save, use, exchange and sell seeds from their own harvests and establishing clear rules for accessing plant genetic resources. 
    • EBA Seed indicators measure the process that follows the release and multiplication of new varieties, which is important to ensure that new, quality seeds can be made available to farmers. For example, the indicators offer data on practices such as official fee schedules, the existence of a requirement to perform post-control tests, recordkeeping to ensure traceability of breeding materials and labeling.
    • EBA Fertilizer indicators measure labelling and packaging requirements as well as prohibition of and establishment of penalties against the sale of mislabeled and open-bag fertilizer. The potential damage caused by adulterated fertilizer, typically not apparent until months after application, undermines trust in fertilizer quality and discourages farmers from using fertilizer at all. 
    Many more examples can be found in the Enabling the Business of Agriculture 2017 report.
  •  Does EBA address farm-managed seed systems?

    EBA recognizes the importance and complementarity of both formal and farmer-managed  seed systems. While the Seed indicators look at the formal seed sector, this year’s report also pilots indicators that look at the circulation of seed produced by farmer-managed seed systems under its Environmental Sustainability topic. The environmental sustainability indicators provide comparable data on practices that allow quality seed developed by farmers and their communities to be registered and made available to more farmers on the open market. The data collected this year can be accessed here.

  •  How were the land indicators developed?

    Access to land is critical for millions of poor people. This year EBA has piloted new land indicators that measure the quality of regulations in terms of three main focus areas: i) coverage, relevance and currency of records for private land, and the extent to which relevant and up to date documentation of land rights is publicly available; ii) state land management, which measures how state-owned land is identified and protected against encroachment; and iii) equity and fairness, which measures gender-differentiated recording and reporting, freedom of leasing and procedural safeguards in case of expropriation.

  •  What are the next steps?

    Given that policies and laws studied by EBA take a long time to reform, the team will move to producing reports every second year. One report, covering up to 80 countries, will be produced in early-2019. In the non-reporting years, the team will work on dissemination and outreach, producing background research and notes, as well as engaging in more in-depth consultations to improve its methodology and products with relevant stakeholders.

  •  What kind of data do you collect and how is it used?

    EBA questionnaires collect information and insights from experts and practitioners on laws and regulations that enable actors along the value chain, including farmers, traders, input suppliers and distributors, among others, to conduct their business. For example, we ask experts about the rules and fees that governments apply to manage natural resources, register and control the provision and quality of agricultural inputs, enable formation of farmer organizations, facilitate the trade of agricultural products,or supply financial services in rural areas, among other factors. We collect information on the regulatory requirements that can be backed up by legal documents. A database of the laws and regulations studied is compiled and publicly shared on our website’s Law Library. The website and report present final data which takes into account input from various stakeholders and our own desk research and interpretation of the laws and regulations. Participation in our questionnaires is entirely voluntary. We do not collect personal experiences or publicly share personal information. Respondents to our questionnaires can choose to be publicly acknowledged on our website on the Stakeholders page and in the report or remain anonymous. All personal data, including individual questionnaire answers, is treated confidentially and never disclosed without consent. 

Methodology and Coverage
  •  What topics does the project cover?

    EBA has so far developed eight scored topics, namely seed, fertilizer, machinery, markets, transport, finance, water, and information and communication technology (ICT), defining regulatory good practices to assign scores. Two additional topics—land and livestock—are under development but initial results from data collection are presented in the 2017 report. Two overarching themes—gender and environmental sustainability—continue to be included in the report’s analysis to ensure that these important linkages are captured and the good practices encouraged by EBA are inclusive and sustainable.

  •  How are EBA topics and indicators selected?
    The choice of the indicators developed for the eight scored topics was guided initially by a review of academic literature. Within each indicator, the selection of regulatory practices and scoring choices were informed by feedback from key stakeholders, including civil society organizations, partner institutions, practitioners, public and private sector representatives, researchers and technical experts. The team is working on developing background papers for each topic to establish the importance of the best practices that EBA measures in each topic area, and to explore linkages to outcomes such as agricultural production.

    Two types of indicators have been developed: legal indicators and efficiency indicators. Legal indicators are derived from a reading of the laws and regulations. In a few instances, the data also go beyond the text of the law to cover implementation—for example, online availability of fertilizer catalogues. Efficiency indicators reflect the time and cost imposed by the regulatory system—for example, the number of procedures and the time and cost to complete a process such as certifying seed for sale in the domestic market. Data of this type are built on legal requirements and cost measures are backed by official fee schedules when available.
  •  What type of business is measured?

    Different businesses, activities, legal obligations, and interactions with government institutions are measured, depending on the topic and specific indicator coverage. For example, in the Markets topic, the Agricultural Trade indicator measures agriculture-specific regulations applicable to businesses, including cooperatives, engaged in the domestic trade and export of agricultural products.  More detail on the businesses and regulations covered by each topic can be found in the Methodology section of the website and in Appendix B of the EBA 2017 report. 

  •  What does EBA not measure?
    Many elements affect a country’s enabling environment for agribusinesses. As a result, even countries that score well on all EBA indicators may have lagging agricultural sectors. For example, the political situation in a country can greatly influence its attractiveness to business and investors. Social aspects, such as literacy and overall education levels and life expectancy, are also important indicators. A country’s economic performance, measured by factors such as inflation, unemployment, income growth, government revenues and expenditures, is also very influential when determining a country’s overall enabling environment. In many countries around the world, foreign exchange restrictions can be a major impediment to doing business. These factors are not captured by the EBA indicators but are well covered by other data initiatives that can be used together with EBA data to present a fuller picture of the enabling environment.

    In many developing countries, many aspects of agricultural activity, from employment to the production and sale of goods, occur through informal channels. Burdensome regulations and a lack of transparency could explain this, as could the quality of institutions, extension services and physical infrastructure. For example, regardless of the quality of transport regulations, lack of road infrastructure is a major barrier to transporting agricultural goods from the farm to markets. However, these elements are also not measured by the EBA indicators.
  •  Why does EBA rank countries and how are scores calculated?
    EBA is envisioned as a tool to inform and encourage policy change. As a benchmarking exercise, the project seeks to present data in a manner that allows policy makers to compare and contrast the policies and regulations of their country with those of others—and to draw lessons about where improvements might be made. As such, the EBA methodology provides a quantitative assessment of the regulations in each of the selected topics. Countries that perform well on the EBA indicators are those that balance proper enforcement of safety and quality control while avoiding burdensome and costly requirements that could discourage private sector development. For example, higher scores are given for stricter labeling and penalty rules related to fertilizer or seed quality control since the laws and regulations need to set appropriate standards in these areas to ensure health and food safety. At the same time, countries receive higher scores when registration processes for seed and fertilizers are efficient, affordable and transparent.

    EBA 2017 presents both topic scores, using the distance-to-frontier (DTF) method pioneered by Doing Business, and topic rankings. The DTF score benchmarks countries with respect to regulatory best practices, and can help in tracking the countries’ absolute level of performance and how it improves over time. The DTF score measures the distance of each country to the frontier, which represents the best performance observed in each indicator for eight EBA topics (seed, fertilizer, machinery, finance, transport, markets, water and ICT). For legal indicators, the frontier is set at the highest possible value, even if no country currently obtains that score. For efficiency indicators, the frontier is set by the highest performing country. 
     More detail on the DTF can be found in the Methodology section of the website and in Appendix A of the EBA 2017 report.