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Symposium 2012

Proposal - Establishing a monitoring and evaluation system to ensure socially and environmentally responsible agro-food value chains

The Challenge

The world’s population is expected to grow from the current seven billion to 9.2 billion by 2050. At the same time, consumption patterns are shifting towards diets containing more protein. So the Fo ...

The world’s population is expected to grow from the current seven billion to 9.2 billion by 2050. At the same time, consumption patterns are shifting towards diets containing more protein. So the Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that meeting the growing global demand for food requires a 70% increase in total agricultural production.

The private sector’s role has recently been receiving increased attention by leaders of both developed and developing nations as exemplified by the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, a new US $3 billion agricultural investment plan in Africa pledged by the G8 leaders at Camp David last May. This new initiative aims to lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next decade in partnership with the private sector, by accelerating the flow of private capital to African agriculture, scaling-up new technologies for sustainable agricultural productivity, and reducing risks borne by vulnerable economies and communities.

Given the right incentives, the private sector can provide effective and sustainable investment and innovation to help in the fight against hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. But it is essential to develop and put in place mechanisms to ensure that the private sector’s involvement in the agro-food value chain is socially and environmentally responsible. The key proposed solutions to achieve these are:

  1. Set up a monitoring and evaluation system to ensure socially and environmentally responsible private sector investment in agro-food value chains
    A monitoring and evaluation system must be put in place by national governments working in close collaboration with non-governmental organizations and the private sector that tracks and assesses the impact of the private sector’s engagement on actors in the value chain. To date, only a limited number of impact assessments have been carried out to analyze poverty alle­viation through value chain interventions, and often it is unclear whether the interventions were responsible for observed improvements, benefited the poor (particularly smallholders) disproportion­ately, or were more cost-effective than alternative approaches.  Specific information that could be gathered includes the impact of the private sector on smallholders’ income, consumers’ nutrition and health, gender, water and environment, and carbon emissions.
  2. Create information systems for sharing private sector impact assessments at the global and national level
    Sound information sharing systemsat the global and national level are needed to track, monitor, and share the private sector’s involvement in agro-food value chains. Such information systems would enhance the transparency of the private sector’s engagement, improve the standards for future partnerships, reduce the risks of corruption and poor governance, and strengthen the level of awareness of citizens in recipient countries.
    International organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and Global Compact, which already promote the principles for responsible agricultural investments (RAI), are well positioned to take this initiative forward. This should be done in close collaboration with the private sector and national governments.
  3. Share case study experiences
    Success stories as well as failures must be shared among countries to better integrate smallholders into agro-food value chains and address their shared challenges. Countries that share similar institutional and business environments would particularly benefit from sharing their experiences in engaging the private sector in their value chains.
  4. Develop guidelines for socially and environmentally responsible value chains
    The lessons learned from the impact assessments and case studies should be used to develop guidelines for socially and environmentally responsible engagements of the private sector in agricultural value chains. These guidelines should be adopted by national governments, the private sector, and international organizations like the World Trade Organization, as deemed applicable, to improve the standards for future public-private partnerships in the agriculture sector.

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