Feeding the Future: Food Action Alliance Launch


>>Welcome. Welcome, everyone. And welcome to the
panel for the press conference for
the Food Action Alliance that is
being held in the context of this
third annual sustainable development
impact summit and so my name is
Sean de Cleene. I’m on the executive
committee of the World Economic Forum. I’m delighted to have here today Ajay
Vir Jakhar, the chairman of Antonio
Samaras, the farmer’ forum of India. Welcome W jay. As well Gilbert Fossoun
Houngbo, the President of the
International Fund for Agricultural
Development, so welcome Gilbert. And then Ruben Echeverria, the
Director-General for the Centre for Tropical
Agriculture, based in Colombia,
welcome. And then also Agnes Matilda
Kalibata, the President Alliance
for a Green revolution in Africa,
based in Kenya, welcome, Agnes. So just to give some context to the Food
Action Alliance, I mean, the 2030 agenda
requires food systems to deliver
probably more and better on all fronts
at the same time than has ever been
done before. And, in particular, the
SDG s has really called out stretch
targets around hunger, nutrition,
income of small holder producer,
water, climate change, greenhouse
gas emissions and much more. But today we’re
seeing that the evidence calls
for urgent change and probably an
unprecedented degree of cooperation. That will require immediate and collective
action. So if there is one thing
that is clear being in New York this
week for the UN General Assembly,
there is a strong call for action. And leadership,
if we are to deliver the necessary impacted
scale but particularly to make
sure that that actually resonates
at a country level, that this isn’t just
a global agenda but actually has
real impact in specific countries. And although there are many fragmented
efforts that are taking place, we
can bring a lot of these initiatives
together and actors to support those
country-led agendas and ultimately to
support the farmer households and the
individual farmers where – who are
really, you know, being challenged
by taking this much broader complex agenda. So to move forward, we will
need to build smart SDG sustainable
food systems. We need alignment and
transformative partnerships to
drive the next generation of food
systems investments that will impact on
food systems on a large scale. But this agenda is not easy. The complexity
of this agenda can often paralyse
action. You know, we often hear it’s
too complex to look at everything that’s
involved in growing food sustainably
in a way that is healthy for people
and inclusive and also creates
market efficient systems. And so today we’re introducing the Food
Action Alliance, a next generation
of partnership building on a number
of different models, the new vision
for agriculture and many others
to deliver on the promise of food systems
that work for everybody. And so in response to a leadership mandate
that came from the World Economic Forum
annual general meeting in 2018,
the Food Action Alliance has been
catalysed by the efforts of IFAD,
of Rabobank, of the World Economic Forum
but developed in collaboration and
leadership from the Alliance for a Green
Revolution for Africa, from the
Centre for Tropical Agriculture for the
Business Council for sustainable
development, from regional development
bank partners, from partners such
as Mercy Corps and many others who are
coming together across business and
civil society and international
organisations to say can we create this
collective agenda that will really deliver
us the food system that we need? And so this is where
the Food Action Alliance brings
in the capacity to serve as that clat
form for a – platform for alignment
and action to help us to nourish
10 billion people by 2050 without
destroying the planet, in line with
the Sustainable Development Goals
and the Paris Climate Agreement
but also in a way as we said that works
to support the priorities of individual
countries and individual farmers. And so in that capacity I’d like
to now turn to the panelists to maybe
put some context to this. And so, maybe
Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, if I turn
to you first, it’s been estimated
that as a UN organisation, as the
President of one of the key UN
organisations looking at food, it’s been
estimated that achieving the SDG
2 on food security will require 140
billion dollars annually for rural
development in agriculture, which
is about 10 times the current, you
know, sort of ODA that is spent on
agriculture at the moment. And so, as a financing institution, how does
IFAD see making up this gap in funding
for the future of food?>>Thank you
so much, Sean, for this very
comprehensive introductory remarks. To get straight to you point, this
is really the challenge that we
are facing where we know that the current
or the ODA in the global term has
been increasing in the past years,
we know that that increase is going
rather to humanitarian security
and so forth the peace and the percentage
going to agriculture is around
5 or 6% flat for the past 10 years,
if not more. That put us in a kind of
no choice than by looking for
alternatives. So, one, we cannot only count
on ODA and we’ve been talking about
the importance of bringing in the
private sector. So it seems to be that
talking about thaks you’ve been talking
about action, the time has come for
us to really move toward action
into how do you completely create
the conditions that will bring the
private sector to invest in agriculture? So there are different – obviously
different products that we
are considering. The first one that a lot
of us is working on leveraging our
existing asset, levering to borrowing
to increase our own resources, that’s
we put in for the agriculture
development. Secondly is to what extent
we can use the little knowledge
that we have on the ground in the field,
use it as some kind of assurance
that will bring that extra guarantee or extra
assurance that the private sector
is looking for to be able to invest
in agriculture. That being said,
that moral or knowledge of the
ground is not sufficient. So developing the insurance product
itself or guarantee schemes is something
that, OK, we are working with different
partners on that. And, you know, I’m
quite hopeful because tremendously
what you notice there’s a lot of inner
city, a lot of out of the box thinking
in developing new products
that we need to experience. Obviously some of them might not succeed. We have to accept that, yes, we can
have failure here and by far in large,
even yesterday I have a meeting that
was planned for half hour, ended up
being 90 minutes, where one of the
private sector we were elaborating
plans to really get into very specific
area in eastern Africa for example. So the capacity of the international
community to develop new project for
me is a strong alternative to the
challenge we have on the ODA side. That being said, though, I have to
say that we have to remind ourself
that financing in itself is not the
main challenge, the main issue. And you touched on it, Sean, at the very
beginning. You know, I am sure soon or
later Agnes will come through the
capacity side and the knowledge side so
I am not going to touch on that. But to really look at how you put the
different parts of this puzzle together
in gaining efficiency is going
to be critical in moving forward.>>And so bringing those parts together
– I mean, Ruben, if I turn to you,
the lat yearn American Caribbean
region probably has about a third of
the world’s fresh water resources,
more than a quarter of the world’s
high potential farmland. But in order
for the Latin America region to
deliver on this huge potential, you know,
in a way that is going to be both
financially viable but also nutritious
and sustainable, there are many of
these moving parts, as Gilbert is saying. So there are going to have to
be brought into harmony. So what role do you see, then, in Latin America
can the Food Action Alliance play
in the context of the challenges that
we face in the region?>>Thanks for
the invite. I am really happy
to be here. One of the reasons why
we are really committed from the international
public research perspective on this
food alliance, this great initiative,
is because exactly what the word
that you used in your question –
which is harmony. We’ve been discussing
these elements or this new narrative
on whether these are sustainable systems
that we all aspire but we are
not there yet for a long time but we
never had all the partnerships together
in the same place before. As he was saying just now, bringing the
private sector, bring in civil society. To me, agriculture is
a business and farmer is our markets
and these food consumption or good
nutritious food there will be plenty
of value chains making good profits. So from the Latin American perspective
it’s a very big reality. We have about 650 million people, that’s
over half of what Africa has in
population. Apparently, everybody says that
Latin America has all the oxygen
for the word, the environmental public
goods for the world and also the
food for the world but we have a lot
of challenges too. For example, we have
the most overweight and obese of the world. We have a lot of hetero-Jen aty
within countries and it’s not a one single
Latin America. I think this initiative
and the reason we’re really committed
behind it is because for us doing
research on food and agriculture for
a long time, now we see all the
partnerships convening, connecting, coordinating
and, more importantly, sharing
good practices. I keep sometimes say
good practice and not best practices. I think good practices are enough. We are still far away from the
research or the extension – imagine
digital, imagine all the good technology
that we have. We can scale that
up through this initiative: I think
we are going to be much better in
the real future. Now, it’s not
enough to have a sustainable system
narrative that we all agree with these
four points you mentioned in your
introduction which are great. Finally in a
short time we do have a narrative
that we agree what is sustainable. It’s sustainable partnerships an
sustainable funding because we can have
a lot of good alliances but what
is the funding? As you were saying,
either private sector comes in including
the farming community in Latin
America, the countries themselves
– if we can map which are the
two or three key elements from a country
perspective how to bring the
private, the public and is the others
together yes the ODA is a fantastic thing
to happen but maybe we don’t need
much of the ODA anymore because there
are many other windows ->>You leverage off each other.>>Exactly. I am a pragmatic
optimistic person looking into the future
and I think, yes, we have a huge challenge but
we never had all of these discussions
bringing the challenges together and
connecting the dots. So I am quite positive to continue to do
research on the subjects, working
at the country at a local level, not
only global big messages, which is
important to agree, but also the reality
happens in the country. With that we
are go — and there are many
examples. It is not true we hire
a lot of people all the time. People say young people
don’t care about agriculture. It’s not true. I see them coming. I am not that
young anymore. I see them coming to do
research on digital, to do digital extension and
to go to farming again in a totally
new concept. Thank you.>>So it requires
innovation of partnerships, innovation
of ideas, innovation of the
way we use digital technology and
innovation in the way that we work together. But, Agnes, I mean, Ruben made
a point there that this is not just about
– we’re here at the Sustainable
Development Impact Summit in the context
of the UN General Assembly but
this is not just about looking at
global challenges. This is – for Africa,
this really comes down to
these are local challenges. These are – and they’re tough challenges
to address and they can’t be just addressed
in isolation by one organisation. And for African farmers, this is real. They’re suffering, you know,
in the millions, the impact of
climate change. And as we speak. So how applicable is this
and how important is something like the Food
Action Alliance to support what needs to be
done in Africa both at the country and regional
level but also right down to the farm?>>Yeah, thank
you, Sean. I guess there’s nowhere
in the world that you get to see the
opportunity for this – the type of partnership
we are describing here as in Africa
and elsewhere. When you look at what is
happening at farm level, or local level,
there’s so many institutions that
are trying to get things done. There’s so much private sector – a lot of
it local private sector that is really
trying to work with the farming
community recognising that 80% of the
food that is being eaten in Africa
is actually coming from small holder
farmers. And this is around those people
that is feeding cities, that
is keeping the environment going. Now, despite that, these farmers are
still producing suboptimally and
because of that a number of institution,
whether it’s research or development
partner institutions, have
formed also trying to work to increasing
the use of farmers – the yields
of farmer, ensuring the farmers
have the right Lexes of – levels
of seeds and fertilisers that
increase their yields. My institution deals with ensuring that farmers
have access to technology so they
can increase yields and it’s true that
in the last 10 years yields have
increased in Africa. But they’re still
extremely low compared to what
is happening to the rest of the world. Now, that is being now completely
reversed with the concept of climate
change because, despite that we depend
on these fam farm er s for our
livelihoods, only 3% of the land is
aggregated. So the idea of climate
change, the onset of climate change
is completely destroying their lives. Now, there’s an opportunity here. We’ve come together in
the past, we have come together and said
let’s do something, let’s support private
sector, let’s support governments,
let’s really drive a force that
will transform. We had the new alliance,
right, we had the Grafrica. I feel we were headed in the right direction. Right not at AGRA we talk about local
private sector but for me the question
is always how do these things scale? How do things go deep enough? I think the opportunity that this type of
partnership we are talking about here
presents is first of all learning
from some of the mistakes we’ve made,
learning from some of the
opportunities we need to take far enough,
learning from the fact that there’s
a real opportunity to scale good
initiatives. And the Food Action Alliance
does present an opportunity for us
to come together and think through
where do we come short when we’re
busy pushing for serious private sector
investments in Africa? Where do we come
short when we all do meet in those
landscapes trying to meet when we
don’t adapt? So where do we fall short? There is an opportunity
to come together and the real good example,
Sean, where farmers working in potatoes
in Kenya have created working with
private sector local governments
have created an alliance that is
delivering for small holder farmer,
delivering for private sector and is anchored
in what is happening in local
government and is funded by donors
so these things are happening and you
can take them to scale>>Ajay, obviously
there are more than 570 million
farms in the world and India,
I mean, a large number of those are
run by individual or families on small
land holdings. From your perspective,
as an Indian farmer, why is something
like the Food Action Alliance
possible? I’m just conscious of
the time and I want to also get a couple
of questions as well.>>So I think there’s so
many farmers and they’re mostly small farmers that
it ‘s not possible for the government to
reach out to all farmers. And so an alliance is
required not only between private sector
and government but even between multilateral funding
agencies, banking sector, food processing
sector, it’s also required between
extension services, research
institutions so this alliance will
be able to work together to scale
up models which are working to accelerate
development and to deliver faster
results. What this alliance I hope will
also manage to do is not only be able
to help farmer s with the modern
knowledge buts will be able to take
knowledge that is available on the
farms of the indigenous people
and of the farmers and take it back to the
research system, which is not happening world wiet. And this is why
it has to be a two-way flow of
information going down, services being available
and also what we see in India and other places is
that there is a great focus on increasing
productivity. I have a saying in my
village which says that when one farmer works
hard he becomes rich. But when all farmers work
hard they all become poor because there’s so
much productivity and nobody is lifting the
goods off the farms. So you need the alliances
to not only market the produce
but grow the right stuff in the right
way and I think it can’t be done by any one
institution, even if it’s the government. You need an alliance to
make it work at the end of the day.>>I am not sure if
there’s any specific questions from anyone. So I mean concrete
next steps then. How would you – Gilbert,
in terms of this alliance, what
do we need to do in the next 12 months,
then, to really see this be something
that’s successful?>>I mean, even before
talking about the next 12 months I talk to talk
about the next four months, between
now and our next meeting is January
in Davos, we need to come with very
concrete, ready to roll action plan
that I will expect, you know very well
together with AGRA, with the Africa
Development Bank and we need to, with the
few countries, to really have concrete
proposal. You mentioned at the
beginning because of the issues are so
big, we just need to tackle some of them
and have concrete action and move. So not only our team already working on
that, but secondly also yesterday it
was a message from one of the minister
that was at the meeting asking me
what’s next and we are waiting for you
guys to tell us what’s going
to be next. So we want our team will be
finalising, together with a few countries
that we are selecting, a concrete
action plan for us to move. And then next
year we will meet here and really
my hope and my ambition is for
us to be able to report back on
concretely what is happening, not in
discussion on what should happen but
what is happening and that’s what the
challenge we have given to ourself>>I really like this. I will go to Ruben
but I like the sense that we
need this action, that we need to
be accountable to those actions. Ruben?>>Two concrete points. One is thanks to EFAT
and the World Economic Forum we are putting
together a regional alliance for Latin
America and the Caribbean. So following up on this
alliance, which is a global one, to have more
traction on the ground in the region. And the second point, so
that is working well, so we can report hopefully
quickly months how is that happening, how
is that coordination and discussion and
networks are going to be built. The second point is that we are mapping at
the country level what we call sustainable
system country profiles. Five to 10 pages, very simple what
are the options because there are
a lot of power points out there
on the systems but what do we do
in country X? So we are starting from
the research tideside to all the element —
side to put all the elements that
are known to say, perhaps when EFAT
dialogues with country X, with
the minister for minister, they can
use — Minister for Finance, they
can use that evidence from public
research to have concrete action. So we are doing those things before the
end of the year and hopefully we can
show some results>>So concrete actions
by the end of the year.>>I think as a farmer,
I would say not only concrete actions are
required but also what is required is sometimes
we don’t need to do something that has been
– that has failed in another location. So the learnings is not
only the success stories but also the failures
need to come back so we don’t repeat the
same thing.>>To Agnes’s point – how
do we make sure we’ve had these partners and if
we’re going to create a more comprehensive
alliance, how do we really learn from that. Agnes, the last word,
over to you.>>Thank you. We already working on a
number of initiatives together. AGRA has been having a
number of meetings with IFAD at country level
trying to, like you said Sean at the beginning,
how do we put it in the country an context and
make sure we’re aligning to the country’s own
priority, we’re not coming up with an agenda,
these countries already have an agenda. How do we align to their
work and what are they trying to achieve. So I think for me what
would be really different is how we find
a few of those, a few countries, not more than
five, agree that in this countries we are not just
going to work together, we are going to get together and
find other parters in as well and agree
to really drive down together and
see what that will look like but to see
what it will look look in the next few
years that can be an example of what
working together in this countries
will look like. And at the centre of that,
there has to be private sector. This is all about ensuring that
we are carrying resources to
something more sustainable, being
private sector>>It’s everyone working
together – it’s private sector,
government, small holder farmer,
organisations, farmers themselves, civil
society. So thank you. So action, alignment and accountability. So we hope for a very
successful Food Action Alliance and thank
you very much.>>Thank you.>>Thank you so much.>>Thank you.>>>> [APPLAUSE]

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