12 October 2022, Rome: The Hand-in-Hand Initiative, the new development pathway fashioned and championed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is gaining strong momentum, to be showcased at the Hand in Hand Investment Forum taking place next week (17 – 21 October) at FAO headquarters in Rome.
Several developing countries have been benefitting from the initiative, which is built around providing international support, holistic territorial approaches and inclusive targeting to the most vulnerable countries.
Bangladesh, for instance, is putting the final touches on resource mobilization, including $500 million from the World Bank and $43 million from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), plus other major multilateral institutions mulling large additional pledges in promoting sustainable production, increasing entrepreneurship among value-chain actors, modernizing institutions and policy for agricultural transformation.
These are all supported by hefty increases in the Government’s own budgetary allocation for the agrifood system, which employs around 40 percent of the country’s population.
“We are working with the Government, development partners, research institutions, and private sector through the Hand-in-Hand Initiative to develop value chains for profitable commodities, build agro-industries, introduce efficient water management systems, expand digital services, reduce food loss and waste, and address climate challenges and build resilience in the face of weather risks,” said Robert D. Simpson, FAO Representative in Bangladesh. “The results will be raised incomes, improved nutrition and well-being for poor and vulnerable populations.”
Robust interest in the Initiative bodes well for demand-driven deployment of FAO’s policy advice and capacity building expertise through Hand-in-Hand. Governments and investment partners alike have found the process useful, raising transparency as well as identifying new opportunities.
The Bangladesh government’s Agriculture Sector Transformation Programme is focused on helping the country, which has halved poverty levels and more than tripled per capita income since 2005 and is now pushing to move definitively beyond semi-subsistence oriented rural households to an advanced, commercialized and diversified arena with efficient value chains spanning from potatoes and onions to mangos and pineapples and more.
Prospective investors will have the opportunity to talk to Agriculture Minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque about opportunities at the Hand-in-Hand Investment Forum next week, which FAO has set up as a way to accelerate the “matchmaking” that underpins the new process. Around 20 Hand-in-Hand participant countries with detailed briefs replete with precise geographic areas and anticipated rates of return on specific investments will also present at the Forum, hopefully spurring others – so far 53 countries are part of the Initiative – to up the pace and make their own cases.
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