Agriculture Update: Partnerships and Progress Reports Address SDG 2 Implementation Globally
UN Photo/Mark Garten
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The first weeks of 2017 have seen announcements of global initiatives, regional partnerships, and progress reports towards the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal on zero hunger (SDG 2).

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) launched a network to enable financing for inclusive rural transformations in developing countries.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has initiated two partnerships for agriculture in Africa and African SIDS.

The World Bank released third edition of the 'Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) Report,' which investigates how regulations impact farmers’ livelihoods and the achievement of SDG 2.

January 2017: The first weeks of 2017 have seen announcements of global initiatives, regional partnerships, and progress reports towards the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal on zero hunger (SDG 2). More specifically, recent developments have addressed the finance of inclusive rural transformation, an assessment of agricultural regulations worldwide, gender in food security, climate adaptation, and the conservation of banana germplasm.

Mainstreaming Gender in Efforts Towards Zero Hunger in CELAC Countries

The Fifth Summit of the Heads of States and Governments of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) adopted a Gender Strategy to complement the region’s Food Security, Nutrition and Hunger Eradication Plan (CELAC-FNS). The Strategy aims to incorporate a gender approach into the legal frameworks, laws and policies relevant for food security, and measures to realize the right to food throughout the CELAC region. It suggests several strategic measures, such as developing sex-disaggregated statistics and indicators, analyzing institutions relevant for food and nutrition security, and adapting the services offered by these institutions towards as gender-differentiated approach. It further proposes specific measures for implementation and approaches for monitoring progress towards gender-related objectives.

Speaking at the Summit, José Graziano da Silva, Director-General the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), lauded the region’s efforts to achieve zero hunger, noting that it could become the first developing region achieve this objective. He highlighted the importance of the Gender Strategy in addressing nutritional problems, such as the rising rates of female obesity observed in the Panorama of Food and Nutritional Security in Latin America. Da Silva further stressed the region’s efforts to improve climate change adaptation and resilience through the development of an FAO-CELAC plan of action for family agriculture and rural territorial development, and a regional strategy for disaster risk management for agriculture and food security. The Fifth Summit of the Heads of States and Governments of CELAC was held 21-25 January 2017 in Punto Cana, the Dominican Republic. [CELAC-FAO Press Release] [FAO Press Release] [CELAC Plan for Food Security, Nutrition and Hunger Eradication (CELAC-FNS)] [CELAC-FNS Gender Strategy] [Political Declaration of the Fifth Summit of Heads of States and Governments of CELAC] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on FAO-PHAO Panorama of Food and Nutrition Security in Latin America and the Caribbean]

Financing Inclusive Rural Transformation

On 27 January 2017, the International Fund for Agricultural development (IFAD) and the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance announced the establishment of the Smallholder Agriculture Finance and Investment Network (SAFIN). The network aims to bridge an estimated US$150 billion gap in financing and investments necessary to enable small agricultural producers and businesses in developing countries to expand their operations and stabilize the rural economy. To mobilize these investments, SAFIN will coordinate activities between private, public and philanthropic investors and rural farmers and enterprises to address finance and investment challenges.

The network targets small and medium-size producers and enterprises that are considered too big for microfinance, yet too small to access regular credit and investment markets, a group often referred to as the “missing middle.” The initiative’s specific objectives are to: create a space for sharing best practices and knowledge among a diverse multi-stakeholder membership; leverage the collective knowledge of the members, and identify research and investment gaps; support and encourage innovation; and promote policy alignment, dialogue and joint progress towards an enabling environment for smallholder agriculture finance.

The announcement for SAFIN was made during a conference titled, ‘Investing in Inclusive Rural transformation: Innovative Approaches to Financing,’ held 25-27 January 2017 and organized by IFAD and the Italian Ministry for Economy and Finance. The conference aimed to advance global efforts in achieving SDG 1 (end poverty in all its forms everywhere) and SDG 2. The meeting followed-up on IFAD’s 2016 Rural Development Report, which assessed processes of rural transformation. Among other conclusions, the report found that while most developing countries are undergoing rapid processes of rural transformation, such processes are not always beneficial for the rural population. Inclusive rural transformation requires distinct agricultural policies as well as policy reforms, institutional innovations and investments. [IFAD Press Release] [UN Press Release] [Conference Website: Investing in Inclusive Rural transformation: Innovative Approaches to Financing] [SAFIN Concept Note] [IFAD 2016 Rural Development Report] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story: 2016 Rural Development Report]

Food Security in Bangladesh

Since the 1970s, Bangladesh has made significant progress in combating hunger, including improvements in agricultural output to provide sufficient food for its population. Nonetheless, roughly one quarter of its population remains food insecure and 11 million people still suffer from acute hunger. Furthermore, most of the population does not have access to a sufficiently nutritious and diverse diet. These are the key findings of the Strategic Review of Food Security and Nutrition in Bangladesh, published by the World Food Programme (WFP). The report, which aims to identify substantial challenges in achieving zero hunger in Bangladesh and ways to overcome them, also finds that one in three children is still affected by stunted growth, and that levels of acute malnutrition have remained constant over several decades. Moreover, the publication raises concerns that food insecurity may be aggravated by socioeconomic transformation and climate change.

The study concludes that despite significant progress in recent years, tackling food security in Bangladesh will require a deep reform of nutrition governance. Specific recommendations for such a reform include: promoting diversified, resilient and nutrition sensitive agriculture; recognizing women and key actors in achieving sustainable food security and nutrition; using social protection systems to ensure that no one is left behind; and adopting and human rights-based approach. [WFP Press Release] [Report Abstract] [Strategic Review of Food Security and Nutrition in Bangladesh]

The State Agricultural Regulations Around the World

A report by the World Bank investigates the role of regulations for improving farmers’ livelihoods and achieving SDG 2. The third edition of the ‘Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) Report’ provides globally comparable data on the quality and efficiency of regulation in 62 countries. The publication covers indicators that describe legal and regulatory processes regarding a range of topics, including seed, fertilizer, machinery, water, livestock, finance, markets, transport and information and communication technology (ICT). The 2017 edition also pilots data collection on indicators for the impact of laws and regulations on environmental sustainability and gender.

The dataset provides countries with an overview of their performance regarding agricultural regulation, and identifies potential areas of improvement. Overall, the study finds that, while many countries already have regulations that encourage strong, commercially-oriented agriculture, almost all countries can further improve conditions. Measures to do so include, for example, regulation that lowers transaction costs, improves registration and permit systems, or facilitates international trade. Such investments would not only improve food production, but also create jobs along the entire agri-food supply chain and thereby contribute to poverty reduction.

Regarding regional differences, the report shows that OECD high-income countries rank highest in quality and efficiency of regulation, followed by the Europe and Central Asia Region and Latin America and the Caribbean. Regulation is least developed in East Asia and the Pacific, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. On average, countries in these regions have adopted less than half of the good practices promoted by the EBA. The publication also notes that the methodology of the EBA assessment is still under development. Future editions of the report will allow monitoring progress in the different categories at the country level and more detailed comparisons across countries and regions. [World Bank Press Release] [Enabling the Business of Agriculture Homepage] [Enabling the Business of Agriculture 2017]

Partnership Announcements

In November 2016, FAO and the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund announced a US$1.5 million project to make agriculture in African Small Island Developing States (SIDS) more resilient to climate change. Signed during the Marrakesh Climate Change Conference, the project will provide knowledge exchange and training on climate smart agriculture and improving market access for farmers in Cabo Verde, Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe, and Seychelles. [FAO Press Release]

On 31 January 2017, FAO and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on strategic collaboration in areas such as sustainable agriculture, agribusiness, development, food and nutrition security and regional integration and trade. The MoU also provides for enhanced cooperation on strategies for policy assistance, statistics, a regional coordination mechanism, population dynamics and urban-rural linkages and governance. [ECA Press Release] [FAO Press Release]

A partnership of a different kind is celebrating its 30th birthday in 2017. Since 1986, the Katholieke Universiteit (KU) Leuven, Belgium has been the host of the Bioversity International Musa Germplasm Transit Centre (ITC), the world’s largest collection of banana germplasm. The collection contains more than 1,500 accessions of edible and wild banana species in vitro under slow growth conditions or in cryopreservation. Since its establishment, the ITC has distributed more than 17,000 samples to users in 109 countries, primarily for breeding and production in banana growing regions in Africa, the Americas and Asia and the Pacific. During an event on 23 January, 2017, titled, ’30 Years of Banana Diversity Hosted in Belgium,’ Scientists and Policy makers underlined the ITC’s contribution to maintaining global banana production in the face of threats from pathogens and climate change. Participants to the event also learned about current efforts to develop new banana varieties that are disease resistant and drought-tolerant. The partnership between KU Leuven and Bioversity International, a member of the CGIAR Consortium, is supported by the Global Crop Diversity Trust, the Belgian Development Cooperation, and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). [Bioversity International Press Release] [KU Leuven Press Release] [Bioversity International Blog Post] [ITC Website]

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