Supporting Responsible Investments in Agriculture and Food Systems (RAI)

Increasing investment in agriculture is critical to achieving Zero Hunger and reducing poverty. However, not only more but better investments are required—investments that sustainably benefit livelihoods, the environment and communities.

To encourage responsible investment in agriculture and food systems, FAO works through a needs-driven Umbrella Programme to engage with governments, small-scale producers, civil society, academia and the private sector. Key Programme activities include raising awareness, building capacities, and supporting the application of international guidance instruments such as the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (CFS-RAI Principles).

Key messages

Most of the world’s poor live in rural areas. Additional investments of USD 140 billion per year in agriculture and rural development are needed to eradicate hunger and poverty by 2030.
Farmers (most of whom are small-scale) are the largest investors in developing country agriculture. It is crucial to strengthen their capacity to invest and to benefit from investments.
Inclusive business models are more likely to benefit local communities than large-scale land investments, especially when local land rights are ill-defined and governance is weak.
Legal and institutional frameworks, the terms of investment contracts, and social and economic contexts all greatly impact investments.
Agricultural investment may differently impact women and men. It is vital to enable equal benefits for all from investment and agro-value chains.

Meaningful consultations with communities tend to contribute to the financial success of investments.

Our Guiding Instrument

Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (CFS-RAI Principles)

The CFS-RAI Principles were developed through an inclusive international and intergovernmental multi-stakeholder process in the Committee on World Food Security. Endorsed by the CFS in 2014, it represents the most comprehensive international guidance instrument for agricultural investments. It has a broad scope, covering all kinds of investments in agricultural value chains and food systems, and encompassing all stakeholders that are involved in, benefit from, or are affected by agricultural investments. The CFS RAI principles build on existing instruments including the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT), the Voluntary Guidelines on the Right to Food, and others.