Monday, May 28, 2012

More than $3 billion in Private Sector Investment for the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition

The New Alliance is a shared commitment to achieve sustained and inclusive agricultural growth in sub-Saharan Africa. New Alliance efforts will help lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years by aligning the commitments of Africa’s leadership to drive effective country-led plans and policies for food security and nutrition; the intentions of private sector partners to increase investments where the conditions are right; and the commitments of G-8 members to expand Africa’s potential for rapid and sustained agricultural growth. All parties recognize that achieving transformational and sustainable economic growth and impacting smallholder livelihoods requires attracting significant and socially responsible private investments.

Africa's economic growth, with agriculture as a strong driver, is creating substantial new business opportunities, and the rate of return on foreign investment in Africa is higher than in any other developing region. Responsible private sector investment is a critical component in the development of all economies and thus a vital driver of human development. The private sector can increase food availability by not only increasing investment in production, but also by linking smallholder farmers to broader markets and creating incentives for innovation that improve productivity. This, in turn, can improve access to food and employment opportunities that raise smallholder farmer incomes.

Private Sector Commitments
In order to boost responsible private sector investment and facilitate greater partnership between African governments, the private sector, and development organizations, the G-8 is launching the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition which will catalyze private sector investment in African agriculture. Leveraging the work of Grow Africa – a public-private partnership platform co-led by the African Union, NEPAD, and World Economic Forum – the New Alliance is already underway. First wave private sector investment pledges across the agricultural value chain, including irrigation, processing, trading, financing and infrastructure already stand at over $3 billion and could potentially impact millions of smallholders.

Highlights of the 21 African and 27 multinational companies that are signing Letters of Intent include:

• Yara International intends to invest up to US$2 billion to build a world-class fertilizer production facility—among the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa—and develop regional fertilizer distribution hubs; • Rabobank intends to launch a lending facility in West Africa that would provide up to US$135 million in loans over five years to small and medium-size companies in the region which participate in the agricultural value chain, ranging from production, processing and logistics to services and technology; • Vodafone intends to establish the Connected Farmer Alliance in Tanzania, Mozambique and Kenya to increase the productivity, incomes and resilience of over 500,000 smallholder farmers by strengthening the linkages and feedback loops between smallholder farmers and large agribusinesses, thereby decreasing the cost of doing business with smallholder farmers and helping improve their productivity. • Tanseed, a private seed company in Tanzania, is committed to training contract growers in certified seed production – leading to an estimated $11 million in additional sourcing from local certified seed contract growers – and seed processing using innovative smaller 0.25 to 2kg seed packs to meet needs of smallholder farmers with low purchasing power.
Additionally, more than 60 companies are signing the “Private Sector Declaration of Support for African Agricultural Development” outlining their commitment to support African agriculture through responsible public-private partnerships.

Private Sector Entities Signing Letters of Intent

Jain Irrigation
Swiss Re
United Phosphorus Limited

Agro EcoEnergy
Bank of Abyssinia
Ghana Nuts
Guts Agro Industries
Hilina Enriched Foods
Omega Farms
Premium Foods
Selous Farming
Shambani Graduates Enterprises
Zemen Bank

Trade and Development Group


Industrial Promotion Services – West Africa

Key Facts: The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition

The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition is a commitment by G-8 nations, African countries and private sector partners to lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years through inclusive and sustained agricultural growth. It responds to strong African commitments to promote and protect food security and nutrition – articulated in multiple settings since 2003 and validated by tremendous progress made in Africa since 2009. The New Alliance builds upon and will continue the progress made by G-8 nations since 2009 at the L’Aquila Summit, and offers a broad, inclusive and innovative path to strengthen food security and nutrition.

The New Alliance supports the accelerated implementation of the African-developed and led agricultural plans (known as CAADPs), through assistance and by catalyzing private sector investment in African agriculture. It embraces the commitments made a L’Aquila and combines assistance with effective policies driven by African governments, increased private sector investment, new tools to scale innovation, and a focus on managing risk.

Initially launching in Tanzania, Ghana, and Ethiopia at the G-8 Camp David Summit, the New Alliance will expand rapidly to other African countries, including Mozambique, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and other African nations that are participating in the Grow Africa Partnership. Over time, the New Alliance will expand to all African countries prepared to join.

Specific commitments in the New Alliance are from:

African leaders to refine policies in order to improve investment opportunities and accelerate the implementation of their country-led plans on food security;
Private sector partners who have already committed more than $3 billion to increase investments; and,
G-8 members who will support Africa’s potential for rapid and sustained agricultural growth with assistance and other development tools, and ensure accountability for the New Alliance.

G-8 and African partners have designed country cooperation frameworks in Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania. More will follow across Africa. Over 45 multinational and African companies have committed to specific agricultural investments that total more than $3 billion and span all areas of the agricultural value chain, including irrigation, crop protection, financing and infrastructure.

G-8 members are following through on L’Aquila commitments and continuing to make a down-payment of over $3 billion to kick-start this new approach. G-8 members are also taking joint actions to bring agricultural innovations to scale, support effective finance, reduce risk for vulnerable communities and economies, improve nutrition and reduce child stunting—focusing, in particular on smallholder farmers especially women, including:

INNOVATION: G-8 members are supporting the launch of new partnerships to identify key productivity technologies, set 10-year adoption and yield improvement targets, and promote commercialization and adoption of key technologies, including improved seeds and post-harvest management systems.

FINANCE: G8 members are supporting the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), with a pledge target of $1.2 billion over three years in pledges from existing and new donors for the public and private sector windows. G-8 members are also and supporting the preparation and financing of bankable agricultural infrastructure projects including through a new Fast Track Facility for Agriculture Infrastructure.

RISK MANAGEMENT: G-8 members support national risk assessment to help African governments formulate strategies for managing risks to women and men smallholder farmers, such as drought.

NUTRITION: G-8 members will actively support the Scaling Up Nutrition movement and welcome the commitment of African partners to improve the nutritional well-being of their populations, especially during the critical 1,000 days window from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday.
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Monday, May 21, 2012

Ahead of G-8 Summit, Development Experts Outline Roadmap to Better Food Security in Africa

Ahead of G-8 Summit, Development Experts Outline Roadmap to Better Food Security in Africa

WASHINGTON (April 18, 2012) -- A new report released today addresses the gap between high-level political commitments to food security and their implementation as G-8 leaders prepare to address the situation in Africa in May. The G-8 nations represent the bulk of development aid, trade, and investment flowing to Africa and, in conjunction with African nations, have the best ability to affect development on the African continent.
Transformational Partnerships in Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa, written by a Transatlantic Experts Group, calls for a new vision for development based on partnerships among Africans, Americans, and Europeans from both the public and private sectors to accelerate African development, starting with food security. Recommendations are directed at Africans, Americans, and Europeans alike.
The group is led by former U.S. Congressman Jim Kolbe and Jean-Michel Severino, the former head of the French Development Agency. The German Marshall Fund of the United States, for which both Kolbe and Severino are senior fellows, organized the group and published the report. Support for the project comes from the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
“There is a confluence of factors which make this issue both critical and timely”, said Kolbe.  “We are seeing a leveling of agriculture productivity even while world population continues to grow.  But no amount of humanitarian aid can solve the problem in the long run.  There has to be greater investment, and that means transformational partnerships among donors and with the private sector to assure access to food and proper nutrition in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Key Takeaways:
  • One billion people globally suffer from chronic hunger. The world’s population will jump from seven to nine billion by 2050, increasing pressure on natural resources and fragile societies, which will be exacerbated by food insecurity. Nowhere will these forces be more acutely felt than in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • 2012 represents the final year of the G-8 L’Aquila commitments, where world leaders pledged $22 billion to address food insecurity. Budget austerity leaves policymakers fewer resources in a time of increased need.
  • The report outlines how cross-sectoral and donor-to-donor partnerships can help solve food security problems. Effective partnerships can alleviate hunger, build institutions, and foster sustainable economic growth, mutually benefiting transatlantic and African actors.
  • The report identifies key principles and recommendations that should be embraced when entering into a partnership that increase the chances of shared success.  These include recognizing the necessity of long-term, systemic change in order to effect transformation; the importance of leadership; engaging the private sector on manageable, concrete issues with a shared vocabulary and metrics; and adapting a holistic approach that promotes sustainability and participation and does not shy away from experimentation.
Principles and Lessons Learned Agricultural transformation is a long-term process that requires sustained commitment to systemic change by several involved parties working together. Partners must define concrete, iterative steps aimed at clear and common goals with these broader impacts in mind and indicators of progress. It is equally important to establish a culture of learning and adaptation, and a certain level of risk tolerance. Institutionalization of vision is as important as vision itself. Third-party actors such as NGOs, emerging countries, international research institutions, and diaspora communities can often serve as neutral brokers. Early successes can build momentum and gain credibility. Partnerships can generate positive spillover effects for the wider economy, society, or governance.
Recommendations for Transatlantic Policymakers The United States should use its G-8 presidency to raise the profile of “transformational partnerships.” The United States and Europe should also include more countries and sectors in their dialogues on food security.  In partnership with African stakeholders, transatlantic partners can help governments streamline regulations, expand entrepreneurship, and build trust between the public and private sectors. The United States and Europe should sponsor programs that build African expertise in agriculture and nutrition. Domestically, the United States and Europe should allow for flexibility in agriculture programming and reconcile conflicting trade and development policies.
Recommendations for African Policymakers It is ultimately the responsibility of Africans to enact policies that will increase food security.  Improvements must be made to the business climate in order to increase investment in the agriculture sector. Safety net programs must be implemented or strengthened to complement these efforts and address the needs of high-risk populations. Effective grain stock management must be utilized to not only help with food emergencies and shortages, but also to alleviate pressures to employ trade restrictions. The urban population must be incorporated into any food security strategy, especially given the acceleration of the urbanization that accompanies agricultural transformation.  Nutrition should be more integrated into food security strategies because food quality matters. Regional groupings such as the East African Community (EAC) need to fulfill commitments to unlocking regional markets and trade through the alignment of standards and improved cross-border infrastructure.
Recommendations for Joint Action Collective, coordinated action amplifies the impact of any one actor’s efforts. Joint action should be concentrated on helping small-scale farmers become medium-sized farmers and develop profitable business enterprises at every stage of the agricultural value chain. Partnerships can help advance models like “hub and out-grower” schemes that connect smallholders to more sustainable business-oriented activities. Formal partnerships between these farmers and larger-scale commercial farmers working through producers’ associations and other platforms must be facilitated. Women play a critical role in African agriculture, so policies must pay particular attention to that group. African and transatlantic partners should enable South-South exchanges, with countries like Brazil, China, and India, to share knowledge and proven practices. Joint action to improve African financial and banking practices can unlock access to capital to farmers, agri-business, and small- and medium-sized enterprises across the continent.
Recommendations to Build Knowledge, Foster Learning, and Sustain Partnerships Investments should be made to build strong agricultural and socio-economic statistical systems to inform evidence-based decision-making and monitoring of progress.  Development partners should increase the capacity of African-based think tanks, business associations, and other African-owned partnership platforms. In addition to building government capacity at the national and federal level, efforts should also be made to ensure that local government officials have the resources to implement policies and programs. Development agencies need to foster a culture of learning that incentivizes innovation and allows for change and adjustment.  Lessons from public-private partnerships in other sectors should be leveraged to help build this capacity in the agriculture sector.
Published by The German Marshall Fund of the United States
Contact: Anne McGinn,, +1 202 683 2676

Saturday, May 05, 2012

We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People -- and Still Can't End Hunger

A new a study from McGill University and the University of Minnesota published in the journalNature compared organic and conventional yields from 66 studies and over 300 trials. Researchers found that on average, conventional systems out-yielded organic farms by 25 percent -- mostly for grains, and depending on conditions.
Embracing the current conventional wisdom, the authors argue for a combination of conventional and organic farming to meet "the twin challenge of feeding a growing population, with rising demand for meat and high-calorie diets, while simultaneously minimizing its global environmental impacts."
Unfortunately, neither the study nor the conventional wisdom addresses the real cause of hunger.
Hunger is caused by poverty and inequality, not scarcity. For the past two decades, the rate of global food production has increased faster than the rate of global population growth. The world already produces more than 1 ½ times enough food to feed everyone on the planet. That's enough to feed 10 billion people, the population peak we expect by 2050. But the people making less than $2 a day -- most of whom are resource-poor farmers cultivating unviably small plots of land -- can't afford to buy this food.
In reality, the bulk of industrially-produced grain crops goes to biofuels and confined animal feedlots rather than food for the 1 billion hungry. The call to double food production by 2050 only applies if we continue to prioritize the growing population of livestock and automobiles over hungry people.
But what about the contentious "yield gap" between conventional and organic farming?
Actually, what this new study does tell us is how much smaller the yield gap is between organic and conventional farming than what critics of organic agriculture have assumed. In fact, for many crops and in many instances, it is minimal. With new advances in seed breeding for organic systems, and with the transition of commercial organic farms to diversified farming systems that have been shown to "overyield," this yield gap will close even further.
Rodale, the longest-running side-by-side study comparing conventional chemical agriculture with organic methods (now 47 years), found organic yields match conventional in good years and outperform them under drought conditions and environmental distress -- a critical property as climate change increasingly serves up extreme weather conditions. Moreover, agroecological practices (basically, farming like a diversified ecosystem) render a higher resistance to extreme climate events which translate into lower vulnerability and higher long-term farm sustainability.
The Nature article examined yields in terms of tons per acre and did not address efficiency ( i.e. yields per units of water or energy) nor environmental externalities (i.e. the environmental costs of production in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, soil erosion, biodiversity loss, etc) and fails to mention that conventional agricultural research enjoyed 60 years of massive private and public sector support for crop genetic improvement, dwarfing funding for organic agriculture by 99 to 1.
The higher performance of conventional over organic methods may hold between what are essentially both mono-cultural commodity farms. This misleading comparison sets organic agriculture as a straw man to be knocked down by its conventional counterpart. While it is rarely acknowledged, half the food in the world is produced by 1.5 billion farmers working small plots for which monocultures of any kind are unsustainable. Non-commercial poly-cultures are better for balancing diets and reducing risk, and can thrive without agrochemicals. Agroecological methods that emphasize rich crop diversity in time and space conserve soils and water and have proven to produce the most rapid, recognizable and sustainable results. In areas in which soils have already been degraded by conventional agriculture's chemical "packages", agroecological methods can increase productivity by 100-300 percent.
This is why the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food released a report advocating for structural reforms and a shift to agroecology. It is why the 400 experts commissioned for the four-year International Assessment on Agriculture, Science and Knowledge for Development (IAASTD 2008) also concluded that agroecology and locally-based food economies (rather than the global market) where the best strategies for combating poverty and hunger.
Raising productivity for resource-poor farmers is one piece of ending hunger, but how this is done -- and whether these farmers can gain access to more land -- will make a big difference in combating poverty and ensuring sustainable livelihoods. The conventional methods already employed for decades by poor farmers have a poor track record in this regard.
Can conventional agriculture provide the yields we need to feed 10 billion people by 2050? Given climate change, the answer is an unsustainable "maybe." The question is, at what social and environmental cost? To end hunger we must end poverty and inequality. For this challenge, agroecological approaches and structural reforms that ensure that resource-poor farmers have the land and resources they need for sustainable livelihoods are the best way forward.
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