Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

This member contributed to:

    • This topic is timely, especially as the world faces a dilemma of climate change and Agenda 2030. Development partners and other stakeholders have recently raised funds to support various projects, particularly in the agribusiness sector. It is a commonplace that this sector needs substantial financial and other logistical support. A large part of the population, particularly in the developing world, depends on the industry for survival. However, all the efforts mentioned above are bound to fail for the following reasons:

      1. The resources raised are never enough to equal the challenges facing the agribusiness sector;

      2. In the case of the developing world, the monitoring and evaluation mechanisms are ineffective. In other words, the value-for-money is always never achieved;

      3. The socio-political setup in most developing regions dictates the direction of the funding opportunities, which in most cases fall into the political other than socio-economic objectives;

      4. Lastly, most developing partners wish to deal or transact business with the central government other than with other stakeholders such as NGOs, multilateral corporations, and other stakeholders.

      This commentary highlights that, given the above, the agribusiness sector suffocates as it has to depend on the investment interests of the central authorities substantially. Thus, there is an urgent need to rethink the traditional approaches by the development partners such as FAO to diversify their policies, for instance, to start engaging with other players. This will substantially enhance the agility of investments in agribusiness and other sectors that the communities in the developing countries highly depend on for basic needs. At the same time, involving different stakeholders can bolster the agribusiness sector at the community level by supporting such businesses at that level other than starting at the national level, where bureaucracy tends to pull down the decision-making processes. Lastly, the need to invest more in capacity building at the local level is critical for an effective paradigm shift. 

    • Identifying an effective and efficient mechanism to boost the investments in agribusiness, particularly in the developing world, is one of the daunting tasks development partners, the international community, and other stakeholders face in the contemporary world. First of all, authorities find it challenging to invest in this sector given the low yields in terms of forex earnings. Secondly, development partners face difficulties raising such money needed to boost agribusiness, especially with such a multitude of problems as the coronavirus, climate change, and refugee problems compounded by the Russia-Ukraine War. Amidst such issues, the discussion of finding a matching approach to channel remittances into sustainable agribusiness investments is timely and relevant. Below are my suggestions;

      1. Increase investment partnerships, for instance, FAO partners with World Bank, IMF, Green Climate Fund (GCF), and the local authorities in the host country. In this way, a consolidated fund aimed at agribusiness can be created, which bolsters the sector;

      2. Digitalize these programs for better data capture, and avoid duplication of data both at the grassroots, implementation, and policy levels;

      3. Diversify the entry-points into the agribusiness investments. For instance, most donor countries prefer to transact with the central governments. However, with the excessive bureaucracy associated with these authorities, the policy and implementation programs are constantly delayed, if not abandoned altogether, making the programs' final beneficially suffer. Thus, development partners should create a corridor of dealing with other stakeholders such as NGOs, who are directly involved in such development activities. Noteworthy, particularly in the developing world, this might be problematic as the central governments sometimes find it difficult for such other entities to receive external funding. It is a commonplace that many NGOs and other civil society organizations have had their activities terminated in most developing countries, particularly those whose democracy is debatable. 

      All said, the debate continues, however, the global policy dynamics also play a pivotal role, and there is a need for continued bargaining and negotiations, as some of this funding at times does not come in time as required. On the other hand, the requested funding will come less than requested. 

    • Studies increasingly indicate that women play a vital role in promoting food security through their active participation in the production and looking after farmland as they participate in all aspects of rural life. According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), ‘despite the significant roles and responsibilities that women assume and are ascribed in food systems, in ensuring food security and nutrition at household, community, national and transnational levels, they face a systemic disadvantage in accessing productive resources, services, and information.’ By enshrining gender issues in the draft roadmap, UNDP is on the right track.

      Thus, women own less land, have limited ability to hire labor, and have impeded access to credit, extension, and other services. Women farmers cultivate smaller plots and less profitable crops than male farmers. This not only relegates women to undesirable levels but also puts the socio-political and economic affairs of the communities under jeopardy. Essentially, food security, which is defined as the availability and the access of food to all people, whereas nutrition security demands the intake of a wide range of foods that provides the essential needed nutrients, is also thrown into disarray. Given the gender inequalities along the entire food production chain, that is, from farm to plate, all but impede the attainment of food and nutritional security. Besides, gender inequalities in access to productive resources such as land, labor, fertilizer, credit, technology, extension, and markets) for example, it can negatively affect food availability. 

      Thus, streamlining gender issues and increasing women in the food production and supply chain will dramatically help to enhance the productivity and consecutively the production of food. On the other hand, it can also assist in providing opportunities for income generation. It generally includes improving nutritional advice through home economics programs and enhancing the quality of rural life through community development. As World Food Program (WFP) has put it, the economic empowerment of rural women as farmers, entrepreneurs, and leaders contributes to alleviating poverty, increasing food security, and achieving gender equality. 

      It is safe to state that gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment in the context of food security and nutrition will bolster the achievement of SDGs, particularly such as Goal 1:No Poverty, Goal 2: Zero Hunger, Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being.