25 January 2013

Africa: WEF Takes Action to Strengthen Food Security

Pretoria — Global leaders at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting have called for intensified efforts to improve the productivity and sustainability of the world's food systems, saying it is time to "step up to scale up".

Working through the World Economic Forum's New Vision for Agriculture initiative, more than 250 organisations are collaborating to improve sustainable food production and opportunities for farmers in 11 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, says the forum's website.

Together these activities will directly impact over 12 million smallholder farmers in the next three to five years.

"We have created new partnerships and new opportunities for smallholder farmers through our work with the New Vision for Agriculture initiative," said Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam.

The initiative helped to form and support a public-private task force engaging 30 organisations to focus investment and innovation on five crops prioritised by Vietnam's national agriculture plan.

The group is implementing projects to train, finance and engage smallholder farmers to increase sustainable production and farmer incomes.

A new report launched this week in Davos, titled Achieving the New Vision for Agriculture: New Models for Action, assesses progress to date and recommends action steps to advance progress in the 11 countries.

Strengthening environmental sustainability, expanding access to finance, broadening stakeholder engagement and investing in local capacity-building are among its key recommendations.

The World Economic Forum and its constituents are hosting 12 sessions related to food security, nutrition and agriculture during Davos.

"We are committed to engaging all stakeholders to create a stronger global food system," said Sarita Nayyar, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum.

"Engaging the private sector is an important part of that effort, to bring investment, innovation and efficiency into partnership efforts."

Eight African countries are working with New Vision for Agriculture partners through Grow Africa, a partnership jointly convened by the African Union, NEPAD and the World Economic Forum. In Davos, African and global leaders will discuss implementation of more than US$ 3 billion in private-sector investment commitments in 2012.

"Smallholder farmers are on the frontline of Africa's food security," said Dyborn Chibonga, Chief Executive Officer of the National Smallholder Farmers' Association of Malawi and one of several farmer leaders participating in Davos sessions. "We need to improve access to markets, finance, technology and information, by working with the private sector and other partners."

The New Vision partnerships coordinate stakeholder investment and efforts on priorities defined in countries' national agriculture plans. Partnerships engage national and provincial governments, global and local companies; farmers' associations and civil society groups; international organizations and donors; and research institutions to strengthen agriculture value chains.

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