Rome – The Hand-in-Hand initiative, the new development path designed and championed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is gaining momentum and will be presented at the Forum on Hand in Hand investment to be held next week (17 – 21 October) at FAO headquarters in Rome.
Several developing countries have benefited from the initiative, which is built around international support, holistic territorial approaches and inclusive targeting of the most vulnerable countries.
Bangladesh, for example, is putting the finishing touches on mobilizing resources, including $500 million from the World Bank and $43 million from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), as well as other major multilateral institutions thinking significant additional contributions to promote sustainable production, increase entrepreneurship among value chain actors, modernization of institutions and agricultural transformation policy.
All of this is supported by large increases in the government’s budget allocation for the agrifood system, which employs around 40% of the country’s population.
“We are working with government, development partners, research institutes and the private sector through the Hand-in-Hand initiative to develop value chains for profitable products, build agro-industries, introduce efficient water management systems, expand digital services, reduce food loss and waste, address climate challenges and build resilience to weather hazards,” said Robert D. Simpson, FAO Representative in Bangladesh. “The results will be increased incomes, improved nutrition and well-being for poor and vulnerable people.”
The strong interest in the Initiative bodes well for the demand-driven deployment of FAO’s policy advice and capacity development expertise through Hand-in-Hand. Governments and investment partners have found the process useful, increasing transparency and identifying new opportunities.
The Government of Bangladesh’s Agricultural Sector Transformation Program aims to help the country, which has halved poverty levels and more than tripled per capita income since 2005 and is now striving to shift permanently from semi-subsistence to an advanced, commercialized and diversified arena. with efficient value chains ranging from potatoes and onions to mangoes and pineapples and more.
Prospective investors will have the opportunity to discuss opportunities with Agriculture Minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque at the Hand-in-Hand Investment Forum next week, which FAO has set up to speed up “matchmaking” which under -tends the new process. About 20 countries participating in Hand-in-Hand with detailed notes containing specific geographies and anticipated rates of return on specific investments will also be present at the Forum, which will hopefully inspire others – up to now 53 countries are part of the Initiative – to pick up the pace and make their own case.
An overview of these memoirs is available by clicking on the country names here.
Role of FAO
“The ideal here is to generate inclusive growth and reduce poverty and hunger from the bottom up and attract more investment for countries,” says FAO Chief Economist Maximo Torero .
“The Hand-in-Hand initiative has many moving parts, including the award-winning geospatial platform that provides members and aspiring stakeholders with tons of natural and human resource data at a very granular level. Advanced geospatial modeling and analytics, along with a robust approach to building partnerships to accelerate market-based agrifood system transformation, support country-led efforts to increase incomes, improve nutritional status and well-being of poor and vulnerable populations, and build resilience to climate change,” says Torero.
The process is country owned and FAO’s role is to assess different scenarios, analyze proposals, offer expert technical support to help target high value investments. In the final phase, FAO acts as an intermediary between Members and third-party investors, which can range from regional development banks to private sector actors operating at multinational and local levels – many of whom will send representatives to the Forum for one-on-one interviews. -we talk with the countries.
At the heart of the whole approach are two cardinal values that differ from past efforts: investments must aim for profitability, not just increased production, and they must improve the incomes and livelihoods of the poorest segments. of the society. FAO has developed thousands of filters to assess the complex factors that need to be aligned to achieve these goals effectively and sustainably.
The Ecuadorian government, for example, has been very proactive in exploiting the opportunities of the Hand-in-Hand initiative, identifying four provinces for investments aimed at doubling the production of Hass avocados per hectare and five for interventions to triple cocoa yields and improve quality so producers earn higher prices. Its plans include investments in packaging facilities and traceability, two essential elements for greater participation in trade. The government has pledged US$45 million, or one-sixth of the $300 million needed.
Investment partners can engage in different ways, including technical and marketing synergies. Some governments may, like Bangladesh, deploy fiscal incentives such as equipment subsidies or export tax breaks to enhance concrete opportunities and galvanize local participation.
Countries make their pitch
FAO’s innovative Hand-in-Hand Investment Forum is an opportunity for countries to present their plans and for potential investors to ask their own questions.
An example of a holistic approach is offered by Ethiopia, which has detailed plans to increase wheat production, replete with carbon emissions mitigation, local production of walking tractors and fertilizer production plants organic products, as well as a plan to increase coffee production sixfold in one year. southern region through an integrated package supporting the stump removal of older trees on existing farms and multiple bean washing and grinding models to add value and create and maintain local jobs and long-term profitability and a market access.
FAO’s hand-in-hand geospatial platform has offered valuable high-resolution wealth data to improve the micro-regional targeting of these investments to lift more people out of poverty.
Congo has used FAO geospatial mapping technologies to identify areas in which to promote greater cassava flour production to reduce food import needs and improve local nutrition.
The Solomon Islands aims to attract investors to its plan to strengthen coconut value chains, both by rehabilitating old plantations to increase yields and by setting up facilities for local farmers to produce coconut. valuable coconut oil for international markets.
Bhutan is looking for partners for a project to build 500 greenhouses to grow organic strawberries, expand asparagus growing areas and build aggregation centers for post-harvest management that do not exist in the country. country. However, these advanced facilities are key to reducing post-harvest food losses and achieving high quality standards, especially for international markets, all for sale in Southeast Asia.
FAO has also organized regional events under the Hand-in-Hand initiative, including one for the Central American Dry Corridor and one for the Sahel region, which aims to complement existing efforts and guide resources where they can have maximum impact and help countries prioritize investments. in water management.