Flexible Voluntary Contribution (FVC)

Empowering Tunisian youth to invest in agri-food systems


In an effort to foster inclusive territorial development and combat the high youth unemployment rates in Tunisia, FAO’s Flexible Multi-Partner Mechanism (FMM) launched a pioneering initiative in the country. As part of the FMM Subprogramme “Leveraging global instruments and knowledge products”, an inclusive multistakeholder platform was created to stimulate investments which are aligned with the CFS Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (CFS-RAI). Doing so, the platform is expected to contribute to sustainable economic growth in the country.

This groundbreaking initiative is the result of a tripartite partnership between FAO, the Tunisian Agricultural Investment Promotion Agency (APIA) and the National Agricultural Research Institute (INRAT), which has received financial support from the FMM and the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture, as well as technical support from the Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH-HAFL).

Launched in June 2019, the platform aims to empower youth to carry out responsible and SDG-aligned investments in agri-food systems through improved and inclusive institutional, policy and legal frameworks, incubation opportunities and access to finance. Using an integrated country-driven approach, it consists of four phases: (i) a strategic planning process, which allows for the identification of investment opportunities, key investment bottlenecks and recommendations; (ii) a multistakeholder dialogue platform, which refines and validates recommendations; (iii) the pilot testing of recommendations through an incubator programme; and (iv) evaluation and integration into regular programmes and frameworks.

As was the case for many development projects being implemented around the world, the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic disrupted the initial work plan for the Subprogramme. Thanks to its flexible nature, however, the Subprogramme rapidly adapted to the situation, particularly in terms of making alternative arrangements for the scheduled in-person events. For example, the multistakeholder think tank migrated to a fully virtual modality, which allowed for even broader youth participation than had been anticipated.

Despite the challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Subprogramme has continued to enhance collaboration between the science and policy sectors in Tunisia thanks to the multistakeholder think tank and the direct support provided to young agri-entrepreneurs through an AgriAccelerator. Moreover, it has fostered inclusive policy dialogue through the creation of an innovative platform that encourages youth participation. Additionally, a set of recommendations has already been validated by all key stakeholders and will be pilot-tested with a group of young agri-entrepreneurs under a new AgriAccelerator hub. Ultimately, the objective is to provide recommendations that will be incorporated into investment promotion activities and programmes.

Ms Monia Ben Romdhane, Director of the Assistance for Business Development Department of APIA, said that “The multistakeholder think tank has enabled us to bring research and policy making closer together and will help identify innovative solutions.”

Ms Ryma Khemiri Moussaoui, Head of the Crop Production Service (Béja) of the Territorial Extension Service (CTV), suggested that “This is a model which should be implemented by all stakeholders, engaged for the same cause and working in synergies.”

Offering entrepreneurial and employment opportunities to youth directly contributes to the sustainable transformation of agri-food systems and the achievement of the Agenda for Sustainable Development. This initiative highlights how flexible funding and mechanisms like the FMM are generating transformative change in Tunisia by stimulating responsible investments that create a dynamic agribusiness sector.

1. No poverty, 2. Zero hunger, 5. Gender equality, 10. Reduced inequalities, 12. Responsible consumption and production, 14. Life below water, 15. Life on land

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