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Friday, 28 March 2014

Aid to Africa: private sector investment becomes new priority

Rich countries switch focus to funding businesses to help farmers and improve food security under the New Alliance.  Investors have increasingly targeted African farmland since the 2008 food, fuel and financial crises. Grow Africa, a "partnership platform" which helped to gather companies' commitments under the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, said there had been a "historic shift" in the level of investment on the continent in 2012.
In January, the Department for International Development (DfID) said it is overhauling how it engages with businesses. It will conduct roundtables and ministerial visits to developing countries with business representatives and create special contact points, "strategic relationship review meetings", and memoranda of co-operation with priority companies, it said.
In November, the international development secretary, Justine Greening, went to Tanzania with firms including Unilever, Diageo, and SAB Miller, for discussions "at a high level with the government of Tanzania", and to "accelerate" agriculture projects with private investors.
The EU sees the New Alliance as a way to improve the lives of the "missing middle", farmers who are able to grow enough to feed their families but have little access to markets to sell their surplus produce. Jean-Pierre Halkin, head of the rural development, food and nutrition security unit at the development and co-operation directorate-general of the European Commission, said those farmers would consider themselves part of the private sector, adding: "We need to devote our attention to assist commercial smallholder farmers better."
Commercial smallholders "are going to be part of the solution for the chronic poor", he said, with their success spurring economic growth and creating jobs in their local areas.
In June, the commission is expected to adopt a new strategy to strengthen the work of the private sector in developing countries.

Source: The Guardian