Statement by the Private Sector Mechanism On the Occasion of the CFS
Rome, Italy, October 15 2014 – The Private Sector Mechanism welcomes the conclusion of the negotiations and the endorsement of the voluntary Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems as part of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in Rome.
On behalf of the International Agri-Food Network (IAFN) and the private sector mechanism, Hakan Bahceci, Chair of IAFN, thanked the FAO, member states, civil society members and other relevant stakeholders, for their willingness to listen the private sector concerns, value their participation, and be open to their contributions. “The Private Sector is proud to have been part of this process, which will contribute to enhance food security and sustainable livelihoods,” noted Bahceci.
Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems is a set of principles to promote investments in agriculture. “An increasing number of private sector firms are already engaged in the improvement of corporate practices related to agricultural investments. It is a real benefit to have a set of principles endorsed by the UN which can give guidance,” said Bahceci.
Many companies have already started to review the principles in the context of existing reporting mechanisms and relevant laws and are willing to examine how the principles may work in practice, with a view to operationalizing them.
“These Principles will also guide not only private sector engagement, but also that of national governments, donors, and NGOs. Stakeholders need to work together collaboratively to attract resources to agriculture – a sector which has long been underfunded,” added Bahceci. “Investments should and do improve livelihoods, promote economic growth and eradicate poverty, foster social and gender equality, achieve sustainable development practices – all if there is a stable, corruption-free enabling environment provided by government.”
The Private Sector Mechanism wishes to congratulate all relevant stakeholders for their tireless efforts to complete these principles, with particularly recognition of the tireless work of the work group Chairperson Christina Blank of Switzerland. It is an important milestone to successfully achieve better food security and nutrition outcomes.
For more information please contact:
Secretariat to the International AgriFood Network
The Private Sector Mechanism fosters the input of the private sector into the UN Committee on Food Security. It is currently co-ordinated by the International Agri Food Network.
Thank you Madam Chair. My name is Cindy Brown, I am a farmer from the United States.
We welcome the conclusion of the negotiations on responsible agricultural investment. The guidelines can offer a useful framework for engaging investors and to ensure the potential of investments is realised.
However, as a farmer, this process has highlighted some core issues with the way farmers are being characterised, not only in the RAI outcomes but also often in other work streams under CFS.
Farmers – in all their sizes – are a vital part of our agricultural system. The RAI outcome suggests being a farmer is not a valid self-identity. It posits an unhelpful and unrealistic dichotomy between being a smallholder and being a business.
Farmers farm for a living. Their farms are a business, even when small. Large-scale farmers are no less farmers than small-scale farmers, even if they run a larger business operation.
And in between smallholder and large-scale farmers, there are a multiplicity of farms of varying sizes and with different set ups. But all farm to support their livelihoods.
Establishing this division between farmers is not helping us support food and nutritional security. We need all farmers to contribute to sustainable production. Different farms may play different roles and they can be complementary. This diversity and multiplicity needs to be recognised across all aspects of our work here at CFS.
We nonetheless hope this outcome document will help guide and improve investments – of all sizes, in all types of farms. Investments should help foster choices among consumers and producers.
Thank you madam Chair.
Thank you Madam Chair.
My name is Keith Polo, I am the country lead for Malawi for the Clinton Foundation. My role is focused on building partnerships and facilitating investments in Africa.
In Africa perhaps more than anywhere else, agriculture holds the key to broad-based economic growth, poverty reduction and food security. Agriculture generates on average 25% of GDP– and much more in many countries. The broader agribusiness sector, including input supply, processing and retailing, is estimated to account for close to half of GDP.
Leveraging the potential of agriculture requires significant increases in investments, both public and private. Out of the 83 billion dollars required annually to feed 9 billion people in 2050, 11 billion dollars would be needed in Africa.
We need to see more investment that supports growth, food security and nutrition. And we hope that we are at a turning point where it becomes clear that business plays an integral role in delivering economic and social progress.
In reality, we are already seeing a tremendous increase in investments in Africa. But it is not only an increase in investment, but also the emergence of new business models.
Novel partnerships that build on the synergies and complementarity of different actors are gaining ground. These partnerships combine public sector investment, philanthropy investments and commercial ventures. They build on differentiated skill sets, cost efficiencies, scale, and combine multiple sources of investments.
We are moving away from a model where partnership meant simply funding of one party by another. The new investment models allow partners to create a value proposition that individually they would not achieve.
We welcome the responsible agriculture investment principles and we believe they are well aligned with the direction in which businesses are going. We hope they provide a source of guidance for investors in Africa, and complement the efforts undertaken under CAADP to increase investments in agriculture.
Thank you Madame Chair.
Thank you very much Madame Chairperson, your excellencies,
My name is John Young Simpson, Head of Africa Investments for a Singapore-based asset manager, Duxton Asset Management, which has 23 direct investments in agribusiness and emerging markets globally.
Over the past three years Duxton has been working closely with the private sector and civil society mechanisms to ensure the RAI process remains as meaningful as possible a framework to promote transformative investment into agribusiness.
We only need to look at the situation for rice farmers in Tanzania over the past 18 months to understand the danger of miscommunication and complacency between stakeholders, including public ones. Lack of consultation and poor transparency within the rice supply-chain significantly impacting the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of farmers and further disincentivising greatly needed private sector investment which was until that time growing.
For this very reason we praise the multi-stakeholder consultation facilitated by the CFS working committee for RAI which has resulted in the creation of an effective document which is of use to in the private sector and we hope will facilitate further investment into agricultural production. We also call member governments to help replicate the spirit of such facilitation at their national levels which will help lead to the transformation of the agricultural industry for which we are all working towards in this room.
At the same time, we encourage CFS to consider the importance of farms of all sizes. The commercialization of medium sized farming operations is a tremendous opportunity for agriculture. These farmers and their transforming organizational structures promote the evolution of diverse business models and employment that many economies dependent on agriculture are failing to create in the urban setting. Further, private investment into this space has the resilience to afford innovation – a risk too high to expect smallholders to take. As global consumers becomes more adept to the safety and nutrition of what they eat, we believe the mid-sized farmer is best placed to develop the marketing and standards required to facilitate such demand – and they are undoubtedly the largest bridge between smallholders and consumers with their highly localized context. Medium sized farmers and their businesses are relevant to all.
In order to ensure the continued consultation and involvement of these medium-sized farmers in the RAI process, and to demonstrate our continued support of the formidable work of the Committee for Food Security Duxton will be one of the first private sector actors working with the World Bank and UNCTAD to apply and test the RAI principles in the field in Africa. Such involvement we believe will demonstrate how incorporation of these principles in a conscious, systematic and nuanced manner makes good business, development and investment sense.