Engaging the Private Sector in Sustainable Agricultural Development
Long neglected, agriculture is regaining prominence on the international agenda. This was made clear at the Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change in Hanoi in September and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Rio de Janeiro in June. Following the Green Revolution, the pace of growth in food production has ground nearly to a halt. But to meet the challenges of the population explosion, climate change, water scarcity and competition from non-food crops, renewed attention and investment are in order.
Companies realise they need small farmers both as suppliers and consumers. Initiatives on both ends of the supply chain are ensuring that African producers have access to European markets, and that European consumers have access to fresh, good quality food, often coming from Africa. With the added regulations over the last decade, African farmers were worried that they might be frozen out of Europe, but they have invested, often working with retailers, to improve quality.
By working together, retailers and farmers are often able to exclude traditional middle-men, who rarely add value. These efforts have also had the side effect of improving the quality of products in African markets, since many of the same farmers supply both. However, the lack of a single global standard for quality and food safety means that agricultural exporters must often meet multiple, different demands in order to sell on more than one market.
Working with public development agencies, private insurance companies have begun experimenting with policies for small farmers. Satellite technology is making it easier to examine claims and act promptly to resolve those that have been verified. For these policies to become commonplace, they would likely have to be subsidised by governments. One key effect would be better access to credit: sometimes small farmers are unable to get loans because lenders know that they would be unable to pay if hit by disaster-related crop failure.
While the private sector is a welcome partner, this does not excuse governments from playing their roles as regulators. For example, better laws and regulations are needed in many countries to ensure the rights of women farmers, notably in relation to land tenure issues. Changes need to be made to make farming more attractive as a profession.
There is considerable concern about so-called land grabs, whereby foreign agricultural corporations are buying land in Africa to produce for export. The disparity in the prices paid for these plots raises the question of whether locals with claims on the land are always given a real voice in the sale process.
Kandeh Yumkella, Director General, United Nations Industrial Development
Organization – UNIDO
Michael Anthony, Head of Emerging Markets Development, Allianz AG
Stephanie Barrientos, Leader, Capturing the Gains Research Programme
Joe Cerrell, Director, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Europe Office
Tanja Gönner, Chair of the Management Board of GIZ and President of the
Allert van den Ham, Chief Executive, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation
Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Secretary General, African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States
Hans-Jürgen Matern, Vice-President, Head of Sustainability and Regulatory Affairs,
Frank van Ooijen, Director for Sustainability, Dairy Multinational Frisland Campina
Kristian Schmidt, Director, Human Development Department, Directorate-General for Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid, European Commission
Apollo Owuor, Director, Agriculture and Corporate Affairs, Kenya Horticultural Exporters
Rashid Ally Mamu, Managing Director, Nyemo Investment Company Ltd.
Moderator: Conny Czymoch, Journalist
This Panel was organised by Comité de Liaison Europe-Afrique-Caraïbes-Pacifique – COLEACP, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit – GIZ, Practitioners’ Network, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, United Nations Industrial Development Organization – UNIDO
For more information on this HLP, please visit: http://www.smallfarmersbigbusiness.org