In the framework of the activities implemented through the Italian Contribution to the FAO Trust Fund for Food Security and Food Safety, several projects in different countries and regions follow a common strategy to enhance Food Security through the Commercialization of Agriculture (FSCA).
This new approach started in 2006, from the collaboration of FAO Rural Infrastructure and Agro-Industries Division (AGS), providing technical contents and expertise, and the Integrated Food Security Support Service of FAO Technical Cooperation Department (TCSF), allowing an appropriate integration with existing FAO Food Security Programmes as well as the existing National Programmes for Food Security.
The main objective of this strategy is to support the development of agriculture and transform it into a modern, competitive and commercially vibrant sector. This strategy also aims to bring environmental, social and economic benefits to the livelihood of farmers and their communities.
In fact nowadays, 75 percent of the poor in developing countries live in rural areas, so strengthening the agricultural sector means not only improving access to nutritious food, but also the necessity of creating a sustainable environment for enhancing food security and economic development. The majority of small farmers experience difficulties in food production with heavy post-harvest losses; moreover smallholder farmers suffer from weak connections to national and international markets and fail to add value to their agricultural production. They have insufficient water supplies and lack access to technology, due to inadequate investments and depletion of natural resources. All these factors negatively affect their incomes, causing food insecurity for their families.
The FSCA strategy addresses these problems by giving opportunities to smallholder farmers and also to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) engaged in the agricultural production. This approach provides farmers with new farming technologies and involves all the stakeholders in the entire food chain at different stages (production, processing, trade and consumption of food). The strategy requires overcoming various constraints identified as weaknesses and bottlenecks such as lack of links with marketing channels, problems of quality and safety, low production and low productivity.
Strengthening the commercialization of agriculture in areas with recognized market potential helps target new market opportunities. Supporting the adoption of technologies helps increase production, productivity and also farming incomes. It also minimises price volatility and promotes sustainable use of natural resources, all of which is relevant to guarantee food security in any country.
The FSCA strategy is built around the following main components, as reported in the Figure below: