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Helping migrants to invest in countries of origin

New collaboration between FAO and IOM

Photo: ©FAO/D. Minkoh
Woman prepares grain for milling.
27 March 2009, Rome – Helping migrants to invest in agricultural development in their home countries is at the heart of a new agreement between FAO and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). 

FAO Deputy Director-General Jim Butler and IOM Deputy Director-General Ndioro Ndiaye today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on agricultural projects which stem directly from migrant communities in Europe and other nations of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 

FAO and the IOM have agreed to work together to support projects proposed by migrants for development in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. The idea is to seek partnerships with local and central governments in both developed and developing countries, and to mobilize human, financial and in-kind resources from governments, migrants’ associations, NGOs and the private sector. 

The agreement, signed at FAO headquarters, reflects growing international recognition of the key roles played by migrants in their countries of origin through their contributions of financial support and expertise. 

Remittances and expertise

The amount of money sent back to developing countries by migrants in the form of remittances reached an estimated $283 billion in 2008, higher than the amount provided through foreign aid or foreign direct investment, according to World Bank figures.  

In addition to encouraging productive investment in agricultural activities, FAO and the IOM have agreed to provide technical assistance. This would include helping migrants to formulate proposals for entrepreneurial projects in agriculture and agroprocessing which could lead to additional income and job opportunities in their origin communities. 

Co-development

The cornerstone of the Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations is the concept of co-development, a kind of two-way street through which migrants can put their expertise and remittances behind development in their countries of origin while, at the same time, increasing their own integration into their host countries. 

Under the Decentralized Cooperation Programme (DCP) launched in 2002, FAO has forged or begun negotiations on 28 cooperation agreements with regional and local authorities in Italy, France, Spain and Belgium for the development of projects in selected countries. 

In 2001, the IOM launched the Migration for Development in Africa (MIDA) Programme, which has implemented projects involving African migrants in Italy and their host communities to support productive investments in African countries.