Despite having made remarkable progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Bangladesh still faces challenges, with 20 percent of the population living below the national poverty line. The Government has committed to moving the farming sector to a more commercial, mechanized and diversified sector. In this context, the Government and its partners have identified key goals for the Hand-in-Hand (HIH) Initiative: support further agro-mechanization, agro-processing, post-harvest processing, cold chain and safe value chain strategies; engage private sector associations, international finance partners, national banks and investors; promote adoption of climate-smart agricultural systems to build resilience.
Ecuador was severely affected by the pandemic, with a devastated economy and an influx of refugees, straining agriculture and food systems. Having joined the Initiative under the criteria of food crisis, the Government quickly took ownership of HIH, prioritizing national investments in order to revitalize the agri-food productive sectors. The Government considers HIH a key support to help implementing the National Agricultural Plan 2020-2030 — the main policy instrument focused on the implementation of agricultural policy at the national and territorial levels. Maps of public finance and multilateral development bank activities are being updated, highlighting main investment areas and gaps. HIH has provided opportunities to engage multilateral donors, international financial institutions, central and local governments, and private companies. There is technical and operational progress for implementing national FAO programmes in selected territories. The Ministry of Agriculture has developed a HIH proposal for approval by the central government in March 2021.
In El Salvador, HIH supports the implementation of the Agricultural Transformation Plan for Food and Nutrition Security (SAN). SAN adopts a territorial approach to improve technological services and boost food production, as part of an effort to increase the country’s capacity to meet its own food needs and accelerate post-COVID recovery. It is led the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, the Secretariat of Trade and Investment, and the Ministry of Innovation. SAN emphasizes social inclusion, entrepreneurship, and sustainability. The Government aims to encourage public-private partnership and investment, create jobs, facilitate access to data and information tools, and promote opportunities so as to reduce rural-urban and international migration.
Ethiopia’s agro-industrial strategy adopted in 2009 is key to transforming the country’s agricultural sector and boosting the economy. A special government agency, the Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), provides a variety of supports and helps to scale up innovation and agricultural investment; it also ensures that the process of upgrading is inclusive and ensures that measures are in place to monitor and improve benefits for smallholders and the poor. At the request of the Ethiopian Government, FAO evaluated the ATA, found that it was effective in its mission, and made recommendations for further strengthening under the HIH Initiative.
The Government has developed a framework and investment plan to strengthen agricultural supply chains, attract investment in food and agriculture, stimulate small and medium enterprises, and create off-farm employment, especially for women and young people. Under HIH, FAO is mobilizing international technical experts to review the investment plans and undertake analyses on poverty eradication, inclusion, and food and nutrition security, so that transformation and inclusion are pursued in tandem in the prioritized territories. HIH is working toward enhancing risk management for the poorest through policy guidance and local economic development programmes.
In Guatemala, 46 percent of the population lives in rural areas, and every third job in the country is in the agriculture sector. Almost 600,000 young people are engaged in agricultural activities in rural areas. With innovation and strategic investments, the agriculture sector has a high potential to generate development opportunities and reduce rural exodus and inequality. The Initiative ´Mano de la Mano´ (Hand in Hand in Spanish) supports the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food to promote rural territorial competitiveness, with a focus on social inclusion and environmental sustainability. HIH also supports the implementation of several national development plans, including the 2032 K'atun National Development Plan, the Strategic Goals and National Development Priorities, the National Comprehensive Rural Development Policy, and the General Policy of Government 2020-2024. Various public and private actors that recognize the potential of rural territories will be working together and provide technical and financial resources to create opportunities for social mobility and better living conditions for rural populations.
Haiti faces multiple challenges, including a food crisis. According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), 46 percent of the population is experiencing food insecurity and poverty, with 22.8 percent of Haitians living in multidimensional poverty, political instability, and a high level of insecurity. A constitutional referendum and a presidential election are planned for 2021. In this context, HIH focuses on a few main priorities to strengthen the ownership and evidence-based policymaking for the Ministry of Agriculture. The priorities are the following: boost the Ministry’s engagement through regular consultations; improve food security and nutrition governance through an alliance of stakeholders; refine the typologies in the departments of Artibonite, Nord and Nord-Est; conduct typologies for two additional departments to identify priority areas for which an investment plan can be drawn up.
Under HIH, FAO is working with the Government to support family farming, inclusion of marginalized groups, rural youth employment, and social protection. Specifically, FAO is engaging with different levels of the Government for dialogue and agreement. The Government is keen to cushion the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 and tropical storms Eta and Iota and revive the economy. Among the measures taken in response to the pandemic is the support for food production and agribusinesses, with an emphasis on food sovereignty and food security. The Secretary of Agriculture and Livestock is in the process of implementing the Country Strategy for the Food Industry Sector in Response to COVID-19. HIH will strengthen the synergies between these efforts. Additionally, the UN’s Socioeconomic Response Plan to COVID-19 will identify priority actions for the agriculture sector. Typologies of micro-regions with the greatest needs — already identified as “lagging” under the 100 territories programme — have been developed. A work plan and a technical team are being assembled.
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face extraordinary development and resilience challenges due to climate change-driven natural hazards, and the impacts of the pandemic and its global economic shocks. Comprising 32 atolls and one coral island, Kiribati faces significant malnutrition and the challenge of producing high-quality food for the entire population. Food production is severely hampered by seawater intrusion in low-lying areas, as well as flooding, drought, poor-quality arable land, and poor access to markets. Atoll agriculture and fisheries form the crux of the food system in Kiribati. HIH will help transform fisheries and agriculture value chains and build the resilience of vulnerable communities.
Lao People's Democratic Republic considers HIH as a way to mobilize technical, financial and human resources to unlock the agricultural potential and eradicate poverty and malnutrition along the China-Lao railway corridor, currently under construction. Programme activities began in late 2020, including territorial-level analysis to identify agri-economic potential in the target territories, assessments of suitable production, value chain analysis (rice, maize, cassava, fruits), donor mapping, the launch of a joint task force with the Government on railway territory development, and informal engagement of partners, including international financial institutions, the European Union, the conglomerate Charoen Pokphand, USAID, Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA), and China Railway Company. HIH ensures that women and young people are engaged in all consultations.
A concept note for the programme is being prepared. The programme vision has developed to the point of Cabinet decision, and the Government has requested FAO and World Bank to work together to finance the HIH Initiative. An inception workshop held in May 2021 served as an opportunity for international partners to start working together formally. It also launched HIH’s resource mobilization effort in earnest.
Under HIH, FAO and the World Bank are supporting the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development to conduct a study for a climate smart agriculture investment plan in Nepal. The study sets out to identify opportunities for collaboration and investment in the agriculture sector. It also contributes to the World Bank’s agriculture engagement strategy and FAO’s Green Climate Fund projects. Additionally, HIH identifies investments and policy options to support rural poverty reduction and food security using a food-systems based approach. It draws upon FAO’s research on the impacts of COVID-19 on value chains and women in agriculture, as well as its geospatial tools for analysis of productivity potential and climate response.
In Niger, HIH supports the Government’s 3N initiative (“Nigeriens Feeding Nigeriens”), which forms the base of an investment plan and priority actions supporting national and regional efforts to reduce poverty and increase food and nutrition security. The investment plan is based on a framework to implement HIH; typologies of sub-national territories with the greatest potential for poverty reduction; and typology and an action plan for the municipalities in the country’s two pilot regions. To this end, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock has already conducted training for the geometrics unit and began collecting data on relevant policy analyses.
In Nigeria, HIH has taken a twin-track approach. The first track supports programme investment plans in territories facing emergencies and shocks in the northeast, northwest, and northern central states, where support for emergencies, resilience, and social protection programmes will be streamlined. HIH adopts a context-specific, multi-sectoral approach to develop the investment plans, while taking advantage of FAO’s resilience strategy, currently under development.
The second track puts in place interventions and investments that will support agricultural commodities value chain development and agro-processing units in regions that have high potential and where poverty rates are also high. Possible commodities include dairy products, horticulture, and fisheries. There is also an effort to identify commodity value chains that could help reduce food loss and waste. Additionally, efforts to facilitate intra-regional trade of key agricultural inputs, like fertilizers, are being explored. Finally, environmental sustainability challenges will be addressed throughout the life of HIH. HIH is strategically aligned with the Government’s Economic Sustainability Plan, which is a 12-month transition plan following the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2016.
Solomon Islands face the challenges of Small Island Developing States. They have used a national agricultural investment plan, not a territorial-based plan, to implement HIH. FAO and IFAD are supporting the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock on its Agriculture Sector Growth and Investment Plan (ASGIP) 2021-2030, which formulates four strategic programs: governance, management and innovation; national food and nutrition security; national livestock development program; and national crop development. The draft plan has been well received during stakeholder consultations, including by permanent secretaries. FAO has identified strategic technical partners to enhance data availability and analytical methods to better identify risks, mitigation strategies and opportunities. Donor matchmaking for the plan is underway.
March 2021 marked the tenth year of the crisis in Syria. The country faces serious food insecurity due to sanctions, economic collapse, currency devaluation, and inflation. Poverty maps, such as those produced for the Humanitarian Response Plan, show high levels food insecurity in all areas of the country. Recognizing that the agriculture sector has become fundamental for employment and for national food availability, HIH focuses on restoring local water supply and irrigation. The Government is committed to reviving the agriculture sector, and the HIH framework is being used to help identify some of the main priorities for national investment. These include a focus on promoting sustainable use of natural resources, especially water, in areas of high agro-economic potential.
In Tajikistan, HIH supports the National Investment Plan 2020-2030. An investment plan is being developed, which includes preliminary agreements with the international financial institutions. The investments target food security, horticulture, seeds, and efficient natural resources management. Since the launch of HIH in 2020, FAO has produced geospatial datasets related to Tajikistan’s food systems, including population, infrastructure, natural resources, production, and data processing. FAO analysis suggests that horticulture, dairy, and potato value chains have the potential to contribute to the achievement of SDG1 and SDG2. HIH’s evidence-based approach is an important element of the country’s effort to integrate digital technology into its social and economic development.
Tuvalu consists of six atolls and three reef islands. Like other Small Island Developing States, it faces extraordinary food security challenges due to climate change-driven natural hazards, and the impacts of the pandemic and its global economic shocks. Food production is severely hampered by flood, drought, seawater intrusion in low-lying coastal areas, limited arable land, and poor access to markets (both local and international). Like in Kiribati, atoll agriculture and fisheries form the crux of the food systems in Tuvalu. HIH will help strengthen fisheries and agriculture value chains in the country, adopting an integrated and holistic approach.
Yemen is in need of expanding, prioritizing, and filling gaps in the humanitarian-development-peace (HDP) nexus. Specifically, HIH is supporting the development of a comprehensive national policy and investment framework for sustainable agriculture, food and nutrition security, and resilience. As such HIH contributes to the Government’s 2030 National Agriculture Sector Strategy and the 2025 National Agriculture Investment Plan. The Government considers it critical that a solid recovery process start even while the conflict is ongoing. HIH builds on existing coordination mechanisms, such as the Food Security and Agriculture Cluster. Nine investment-oriented diagnostics to inform policy and investment frameworks were carried out. Efforts are ongoing to identify priority-area typologies, define focus territories, and engage stakeholders.
Zimbabwe’s HIH builds on the Government’s agri-food systems transformation agenda through the “AgrInvest” programme. HIH strengthens AgrInvest with advanced methodology that combines household-level data with GIS information to identify territorial hotspots. It also complements AgrInvest’s work to reduce food loss and improve sustainable management of water resources. Efforts are underway for inclusive value chain development, supporting the formulation of “Sector Development Plan Agreements” between the Government and the private sector. Instruments to lower risk and guarantee loans for the country’s Agriculture Development Fund are also being developed, along with draft investment proposals for key infrastructure — irrigation, markets, etc. — in the microregions. The Ministry of Agriculture, Land, Water and Rural Resettlement is in the process of aligning some of the strategies of AgrInvest with those of HIH.