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FAO-ITOCA regional event: North and West African countries share good practices to promote responsible investment in agriculture

"Enhancing responsible investment in agriculture that increases domestic production for food security; creates decent employment opportunities; and contributes to sustainable development is critical to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond," said Andrew Nadeau, FAO Senior Capacity Development Officer during the event "Boosting responsible investment in agriculture and food systems – good practices to #Buildbackbetter" which took place in Dakar on 29-30 June.

Celebrated under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Information, Training and Outreach Center for Africa (ITOCA), the event brought together 30 representatives from Government institutions, academia, non-governmental organizations, young agri-entrepreneurs and agribusinesses from Liberia, Mauritania, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Tunisia to exchange knowledge and good practices in the promotion of responsible investment in agriculture and food systems (RAI).

"Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic the agriculture sector was already suffering from serious underinvestment. With the recent rise in poverty and hunger in the region, increasing investments that are aligned with national development goals is even more pressing today," noted Oumar Syll, FAO Senegal National Expert in responsible investment in agriculture.

In this spirit, FAO has been advocating in favor of the promotion of "responsible investments", that is, investments that are sustainable economically, socially and environmentally, in accord to the Committee on World Food Security'sPrinciples for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (CFS-RAI).

FAO's approach in the concerned countries focuses on empowering key change agents that play a catalytic role in the transformation of the policy environment related to investments. This approach has included capacity development, advocacy, and policy dialogue activities.

"We are playing particular attention at improving governance and empowering youth in agriculture, as those are two key themes that emerged strongly during the learning process and multi-stakeholder dialogues conducted," explained Yannick Fiedler, FAO Programme Officer.

This strategy has resulted in remarkable outcomes that were presented during the event. One the good practices that was most appreciated by participants was the incubation programme "Agri-accelerator investment hub" that the Tunisian Agricultural Investment Promotion Agency launched last year in collaboration with the National Institute of Agricultural Research of Tunisia and with FAO's support

"Liberia and Sierra Leone have extremely young populations. These youth could be playing a major role in the economic and social development of our countries, but we are not being able to attract them to agriculture. In this sense, the Tunisian experience gives us clues about the elements that a good strategy to promote youth entrepreneurship should have," noted Jeneba Alharazim, Deputy Head of the Agribusiness Promotion Unit in the Government of Sierra Leone.

"This event has been extremely useful because coming together we see that we have many challenges in common, and learning about solutions that have been successful in other countries gives us much inspiration," said Joseph Yeanay, a Legal Assistant at the Liberia Land Authority.

"With these exchanges, our aim is to encourage the emergence of a community of practitioners who, taking ownership of the CFS-RAI Principles, become leaders in the transformation of the investment environment in agriculture in their countries," said Chiara Nicodemi, FAO Capacity Development Officer.

The outcome of this event was a roadmap with a series of key recommendations to continue advancing responsible investments in the region. The most critical were (I) setting-up national concertation frameworks for inclusive and coordinated decision-making on RAI; (2) Drafting of national RAI policies; and (3) applying the CFS-RAI to enhance and harmonize national policies, laws and incentives.

These activities have been conducted with the generous support of the Federal Government of Germany and FAO's Flexible Multi-Partner Mechanism.


Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.
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