How can we feed the world? We have to attract private sector investments to smallholder agriculture
25 july 2016
What’s the first step we have to take to feed the planet?
It has been made abundantly clear that we will need more food to feed the 9 billion people that we will be in 2050, but not only we will need more food, we will also need better food, more nutritious food, more sustainable food. The problem is that 85% of agriculture sector is represented by smallholder agriculture, i.e. farmers who own less than two hectares of land.
This is essentially a market of lonely poor farmers, which is not attractive for private sector players and investors, who prefer doing their business somewhere else. As a consequence, these farmers are affected by low access to credit, low access to markets and high environmental risks.
That’s why we believe that to feed the planet in a sustainable way we have to start investing in rural people, in order to increase their productivity and their revenues and to reduce poverty through rural development programs.
How can international institutions such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) support this process?
IFAD (a specialized agency of the United Nations) has been working to promote investments and projects for a long time. Our objectives now are to use public money to attract private sector to invest in smallholder agriculture and to reconcile short-term objectives, as the ones we face when we talk about poverty, with long-term ones, as the ones we face when we talk about sustainability.
Agriculture is, essentially, a private sector activity. It is crucial to integrate this sector in production chains and in agribusiness. Otherwise, we will never achieve a win-win situation with long-term sustainability targets.