17 October 2023, Rome: The second Hand-in-Hand Investment Forum began today, intent on quadrupling the more than $3 billion in fresh resources proposed in the inaugural event in 2022 to invest in poverty reduction, improved food security and sustainable agrifood systems that benefit the poorest.
“Without innovation and investment there is no future,” said QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which runs the Initiative and is hosting the Forum during the World Food Forum. He emphasized the importance of all stakeholders and especially the private sector in improving productivity and efficiency for the people who need it most.
Qu urged participants to engage in the Forum as a “heartfelt” at a time when “heartbroken” news is too common. Shifting the narrative requires using our hands, he said.
67 FAO Member Countries are now active Hand-in-Hand participants, and 35 ministers from the 31 countries participating in the four-day Forum, which facilitates pitching scalable agrifood investments to possible investment partners ranging from the private sector to important non-profit foundations and includes a range of global, regional and subregional multilateral bodies and financial institutions.
“As a government-led and owned Initiative, Hand-in-Hand supports member Governments drive their agrifood systems transformation. This requires significant and scalable investments in agrifood systems which are data-led, based on untapped national agrifood potential and market demand,” said FAO Chief Economist Maximo Torero, who leads the Initiative. Some 109 investments, designed for over 140 million beneficiaries, will be presented by governments and through the regional initiatives at the Forum.
Those pitches will showcase more than $14 billion of detailed agrifood investment opportunities, ranging from halving losses and tripling productivity of tomatoes in Nigeria, a 170 percent increase in climate-smart cocoa productivity in Ecuador, engaging women and youth in agriculture through the Building Better Tomorrow programme in Tanzania, and investing in storage and agro-processing facilities for fruits and vegetables destined for national and international markets in Bangladesh.
Outlines of the government presentations are posted online here.
The Hand-in-Hand Investment Forum 2023 kicks off with a series of individual country presentations where national ministerial delegations present their prioritized agrifood investment plans.
Through Hand-in-Hand, countries are supported to better plan and develop agrifood priority investments, often with national co-funding. Hand-in-Hand support consists of advanced geospatial targeting using territorial approaches, socio-economic and investment analysis and preparation of detailed investment notes complete with prospective rates of return on investments, per capita income increases and expected numbers of beneficiaries.
Two high-profile round tables will wrap up the first day of the Forum on Tuesday – one with international financial institutions such as the Interamerican Development Bank, CABEI Central American Bank for economic Integration, CAF Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean, African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, CABEI (Central American Bank for Economic Integration), CAF (Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean), Interamerican Development Bank , International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Finance Corporation of the World Bank, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency and the Qatar Development Fund, and the other featuring Heads of Delegations and the Chief Executive Officers of global, regional and local companies.
More country presentations will take place on Wednesday, along with a round table with large “traditional” donors and another with senior management from the Rockefeller Foundation, Mastercard Foundation, Ikea Foundation, Bezos Earth Fund, Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, and others.
Thursday and Friday are devoted to bilateral meetings where prospective investors can discuss specific investments in greater detail with government representatives. These encounters constitute the “match making” that FAO has embedded at the heart of the Hand-in-Hand Initiative, launched by the FAO Director-General in 2019.
To facilitate agile and quick dialogues, FAO has set up an online app enabling interested investors to engage with governments.
A detailed agenda is available here.
The bigger picture
More than 18,000 people are attending the World Food Forum, with more than 4,000 doing so in person. Representatives of the private sector have notably increased their planned participation in this year’s Hand-In-Hand Investment Forum, underscoring the appeal of the approach and growing interest in transforming agrifood systems to achieve greater sustainability, the Four Betters – Better production, better nutrition, better environment and a better life- and improving the livelihoods of those at risk of being left behind.
Investor interest in the regional initiatives, focused on the Dry Corridor and the Sahel, is particularly strong.
Success hinges on designing bankable agrifood investments, with governments and partners such as international, regional and local banks and development partners contributing to derisking with Governments and the local private sector. The virtue of the approach is reflected in the fact that some countries have in fact adopted the Hand-in-Hand approach into their national planning and investment frameworks.
“Hand in Hand is an innovative, government led and owned approach, which engages the award-winning FAO Geospatial Platform and advanced socio-economic analytics and data tools to support governments to better analyse, plan and identify territories where their agrifood investments can have significant and scalable impact on reducing poverty, improving food security and reducing inequality sustainably. We are delighted to have some many Governments here at this unique event and are committed to continue to support their efforts for agrifood systems transformation,” said Torero.
(For Latest Agriculture News & Updates, follow Krishak Jagat on Google News)