- If resilience and food security are to improve, innovative partnerships are required.
- EU policy seeks to benefit smallholders in developing countries, but some believe the EU still spends too much on the Common Agricultural Policy and biofuels, and not enough on agriculture in developing countries.
- For partnership among governments, farmers and the private sector to work for development, they must be mutually beneficial.
An estimated one-seventh of the world’s population suffers from hunger or malnutrition. An estimated 170 million people suffer from stunting that irrevocably damages brain and physical development during the critical first 1,000 days of life. If resilience, and food and nutrition security are to be improved, innovative partnerships are required involving governments, the private sector, smallholders and local processors, academics and civil society organizations.
The European Union is the largest importer of agricultural products from developing countries. Recent reforms of its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) have reduced export subsidies that adversely affect agricultural producers in developing countries. EU policy seeks to benefit smallholders and ensure they are not ruled out of markets. Donor nations increasingly understand the importance of investing in agricultural development. Investment in nutrition yields an estimated 15 to 1 return. Access to foods with adequate levels of micronutrients is critical for poverty eradication and sustainable development.
Hunger is due to the denial of the right to food and the right to decent livelihoods. There is a power imbalance between smallholders and markets dominated by large, multinational agribusinesses. Speakers noted that the EU spends too much on CAP and support for biofuels, and not enough on support for agricultural in developing countries.
African nations are seeking to reduce poverty, hunger and malnutrition through a common agricultural programme with a target of investment in agricultural of 10 % of national budgets. African governments are facilitating contacts between farmers and lending institutions to help farmers obtain credit. Farmers need documented, ‘bankable’ ownership to obtain credit.
For progress in agricultural development, there must be tripartite partnerships among governments, smallholders and farmer organisations, and agribusiness. African governments are seeking to strengthen public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the agricultural sector.
Smallholders and local processors in developing countries face many challenges, including inadequate infrastructure; lack of access to credit, seeds and tools; lack of education and information; climate change, and non-tariff barriers to trade. Multinational agribusinesses are seeking to strengthen smallholders and local processors through contract farming arrangements, training, and access to seeds and equipment. Contract farming can improve access to credit.
Some farmers groups are suspicious of big agribusiness, believing that its ‘hidden agenda’ is shareholder profit, not development. However, for partnerships between farmers and the private sector to work, they must be mutually beneficial for all parties. Governments must play a major role in these PPPs, and farmers’ groups need increased capacity to be able to hold their own in the negotiations. NGOs should play a watchdog role to ensure PPPs really work for poor people.
Agribusinesses are coming to understand that treating their suppliers fairly is good business. Consumers are increasingly concerned about exploitive supply chains and businesses benefit from having contented, efficient and reliable producers.
Farmers in developing countries want to become commercially viable business partners, and not remain merely subsistence farmers.