12 November 2009, Milan – With privatization, globalization and the transformation of the food chain from the farm to the table, the importance of the private sector has increased, said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf addressing an international private sector forum on food security.
Held as a pre-Summit event from 12 to 13 November, the forum is organized within the context of the World Summit on Food Security, taking place from 16 to 18 November in Rome.
FAO estimates the investments needs in developing countries from Official Development Assistance (ODA) at US$44 billion per year. These will need to be complemented by financing from national budgets and private investments in primary agriculture and downstream services such as storage and processing, Diouf said.
Business interest encouraging
Diouf said that it was encouraging that the private sector's interest in agriculture has increased. Foreign direct investment (FDI) in the sector tripled since 2000 from $US1billion to more than $3 billion in 2007, though he noted that this still represents less than one percent of total world FDI inflows.
The FAO Director-General encouraged private companies to take a longer-term view of investment and business opportunities in developing regions rather than focussing on immediate needs.
He also encouraged companies to take the extra step to look into countries where they perhaps have not previously ventured, particularly for input supply, produce procurement and agro-industry development.
International companies needed to work closely with smaller and medium-scale local enterprises, including input suppliers as well as food manufacturers, distributors and retailers, which he said were important intermediaries with primary producers and an important source for rural employment and income growth.
Also taking part in the Private Sector Forum—which is being organized by the City of Milan and FAO in collaboration with the Milan Expo 2015—are the Italian Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policy, Luca Zaia and representatives from the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
The Forum involves over 120 chief executive officers and other leaders from the international business community concerned with all aspects of the food value chain, from production to marketing and distribution.
It gives the private sector an excellent opportunity to advance to the FAO World Summit on Food Security a concrete vision on how businesses can contribute effectively to the fight against hunger and poverty.
"I am tremendously proud that for the first time Milan is hosting an FAO event,” said Letizia Moratti, Mayor of Milan and Special Commissioner for Expo 2015.
“The city has a high concentration of companies active in the field of nutrition and is able to translate the work of several universities and centers specialized in agro-food research into excellence in production.
The FAO forum will showcase our commitment to fighting hunger and boost the city's network of excellence. It will also be an occasion to create opportunities for agro-food companies in new markets.”
"The partnership with FAO is essential for increasing awareness in food security and developing the theme of the Expo," said Lucio Stanca, CEO of the Milan Expo 2015 Spa.
"We will work together on international cooperation projects related to food security and will develop a collaborative and constructive dialogue with the private sector."