Investment in developing nations’ agriculture vital to slash hunger, poverty – UN
Greater investment in agriculture and rural development is essential to spur economic growth in developing countries and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which aim to slash hunger and poverty in half by 2015, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today.
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of its Investment Centre, established in partnership with the World Bank to increase support to agriculture, the FAO is holding a two-day seminar at its Rome headquarters on the future role of investment.
“We already play a central role in helping governments coordinate assistance from a range of donors in a common programme,” Tesfai Tecle, Director of the Investment Centre, said in noting the shift away from individual projects towards more comprehensive sector-wide approaches.
“Now, we will be working even more closely with governments than in the past, helping the ministries of agriculture to develop strategies that make sense and formulate their own investment proposals,” he added, referring to the increasing preference among donors for direct budget support where funds are managed by the Ministry of Finance.
For the past four decades, the Investment Centre has assisted developing countries in identifying and formulating effective and sustainable investment policies, programmes and projects. It does this with funding from multilateral institutions such as the World Bank, regional development banks and international funds as well as FAO resources.
To date, FAO and its financing partners have approved more than 1,400 projects prepared by the Centre for over 140 developing countries at a total value of around $76 billion.
The Centre gives special attention to Africa, where the most intractable development challenges are to be found and where the majority of people survive on agriculture. As well as formulating investment projects in Africa with its partner institutions, it has recently provided support, with FAO funds, to the formulation of national medium-term investment programmes in 49 African countries, under the auspices of the African Union's New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).