John Young Simpson Addresses the Plenary
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.