Harnessing the engagement of the private sector in the fight against hunger

News and Press Release
Originally published

FAO provides a platform for African nations to confer on the roles of private sector in agricultural transformation

18 December 2019, Addis Ababa - Experts from African countries stressed that good policies and strong leadership that ensure the full participation of the private sector and financial institutions are a prerequisite to meeting the aspiration of hunger free Africa by 2030.

In a regional workshop, dubbed: “Accelerating Progress Towards SDG2 Zero Hunger”, participants emphasized that ending hunger requires a political commitment to stimulate the private sector and financial institutions to unleash their full potential in support of large, medium and small-scale agriculture development in Africa, through investment, knowledge and technology transfer, and agripreneurship.

FAO Strategic Programme Leader for Hunger Eradication, Food Security and Nutrition Programme (SP1), Brave Ndisale reminded participants that agriculture has a huge potential to reduce food insecurity and malnutrition; and also to create jobs and raise incomes in Africa.

“Major policy interventions and good governance are required to unlock this potential. National policies and programmes should ensure the full and active participation of the private sector and financial institutions. FAO considers these partners as key allies in the fight against hunger. Through technological innovations, knowledge transfer and better governance, the private sector is instrumental in driving agricultural transformation,” she noted.

“If we are to end hunger in Africa by 2030, we need to find a way to accelerate and sustain productivity at scale among smallholder farmers while protecting the natural resource base – for which the private sector has a great role to play,” added Ndisale.

Africa is simultaneously blessed and challenged by a large youthful population which offers great and innovative minds, but at the same time is strongly affected by unemployment and distress economic migration, said David Phiri, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa and Representative to the Africa Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

“If agricultural or food system policies do not look at the youth and their needs, little change will be achieved. Hence, our priorities should rest on sustainable production intensification to feed the growing population, while managing the effects of climate extremes, desertification, soil degradation, and conflicts. At the same time, we need to develop sustainable and profitable value chains to create more jobs for the increasing young population. It is therefore imperative for national governments to have the right policies that boost the participation of the private sector in agriculture,” Phiri stressed.

Dominique Davoux, Rural Transformation Team Leader at the Delegation of the European in Ethiopia noted that food and nutrition security is about ensuring that everybody is able to access sufficient, affordable and nutritious food. “The private sector and other stakeholders can foster agricultural and food systems transformations towards more positive outcomes for good nutrition, poverty reduction, gender equality, and environmental sustainability. Through its support, the EU seeks to build resilience to food crises and help countries ensure that no one is left hungry in Africa,” he said.

Food security situation in Africa

The 2018 Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition reported that the prevalence of hunger was on the rise in Africa, after many years of decline. The latest data, presented in this Overview confirmed that this trend continues. Today, a fifth of Africans are undernourished, representing a staggering 257 million individuals. The Overview further stressed the need for greater efforts in achieving the goals of the Malabo Declaration and the Sustainable Development Goals of ending hunger in Africa. It indicated that countries committed to the values and principles of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), and that implement their National Agriculture Investment Plans, perform better. It is therefore essential to strengthen commitments to the CAADP goals and to accelerate efforts toward formulating and implementing National and Regional Agricultural Investment Plans.

About the workshop

The workshop, organized by FAO, from 11 to 13 December 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was a knowledge-sharing platform, co-organized by FAO’s Strategic Programme 1 (SP1) and the Office for South-South and Triangular Cooperation (OSS), in collaboration with FAO’s Regional Office for Africa. It aimed at facilitating learning about the pathways to enhance the participation of the private sector and other stakeholders in agriculture and food systems transformations, to ultimately drive more positive outcomes for better nutrition, poverty reduction, gender equality, and environmental sustainability.

The workshop is part of the activities of the European Union-FAO partnership programme, called FIRST (The Food and Nutrition Security Impact, Resilience, Sustainability, and Transformation) Programme. The workshop brought together about 70 participants from FIRST countries, EU delegation, FAO, FIRST Policy Officers, Regional Economic Communities, Civil Society Organisations, and the private sector.

For more information Contact:

Abebe D. Banjaw
FAO SFE Communication Consultant
FAO Subregional Office for Eastern Africa & Rep. to AU & UNECA
Tel: +251 (0)116478888, Ext. 214
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Tezeta Meshesha
FAO SFE Communication Specialist
FAO Subregional Office for Eastern Africa & Rep. to AU & UNECA
Tel: +251 (0)116478888, Ext. 193
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Carlos Laorden
FIRST Programme - FAO HQ