An African-financed, FAO directed trust fund will provide resources needed to drive sustainable food production across the continent and the oil sector will play a crucial role, according to FAO’s director-general.
The agreement was discussed at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations’ (FAO) regional conference in the Republic of Congo last week involving 45 African Nations.
“The Africa Trust Fund would raise resources in the continent to fight hunger and would also allow for the scaling up of successful activities to prevent and respond to food and agriculture crises in the region,” the FAO said.
The FAO will now engage in consultations with involved nations to draft a detailed proposal of the fund for final approval of participating member states, it said.
Mark Driscoll, head of the One Planet Food Programme at WWF UK, backed the “very positive” trust fund, especially as it pulls together efforts across the continent.
“One of the big barriers in tackling food security issues is the lack of global or regional governance,” Driscoll told FoodNavigator.com.
“Africa as a continent is going to be a key area affected by water stress, food security and climate change,” he said, and so any projects implemented to tackle this are “absolutely key.”
Speaking at the conference in Brazzaville, José Graziano da Silva, director-general of the FAO, said that there is “great opportunity” for Africa’s food oil industry to promote the continent’s social and economic development.
Graziano da Silva appealed to the oil-producing African nations to utilise the resources pooled by the trust fund and invest in sustainable agriculture with a focus on avoiding environmental damage.
A recent WWF report suggested that adopting sustainable palm principles is positive for business as the benefits gained outweigh the costs of implementation.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is one association dedicated to increasing industry awareness in production and use of sustainable palm oil – from farm to manufacturing – and many food firms across Europe have made pledges, including Unilever, Nestlé and FrieslandCampina.
Strong, joint forces
Solidarity between African states was called for at the conference and political backing highlighted as essential.
Graziano da Silva asked governments, the private sector, civil society, international and regional organisations as well as the media, to “join forces” in driving food stability across Africa.
Increased productivity and market access for smallholders was raised as a focus by attendees, as well as improving management and government of sustainable use of natural resources.
Continued development of public-private partnerships within the agricultural sector was also flagged as a necessary area of investment.
“Despite potential problems and complexities, public-private partnerships for agricultural development that are carefully planned and implemented can help governments to improve the quality, reduce the price, and extend the coverage of services,” the FAO said.
Driscoll said that such ventures are “vital” to also increase knowledge transfer and drive research and development forward.
FAO said that public-private partnerships are flexible by nature and thus adaptable and able to fulfil objectives efficiently. It said it will work closely with ministries across Africa to advise and assist implementation of such ventures where appropriate.