Investing in Trust: CFS and Private Sector Mechanism Celebrate Breakthrough Year in Rome

Posted by on May 19th, 2015 | 0 Comments »

GHI and our member companies help advance understanding of the role the private sector plays in making concrete contributions to agricultural development and to ending hunger and malnutrition

By Ann Steensland, GHI Senior Policy Associate

In 2009, the member states of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) invited the private sector to form a “mechanism” by which businesses could engage in consultation and collaboration with the UN’s foremost body on global food security. Last week, members of the CFS Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) gathered in Rome for their annual meeting to celebrate a breakthrough year for private sector participation in the CFS and related processes, including the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2).

In 2014, more than 250 business groups and companies participated in PSM activities. Ninety private sector delegates attended the CFS and 23 delegates spoke in the plenary. Seventy-five bilateral meetings were held with CFS member states and 70 private sector representatives participated in the negotiations for major initiatives such as the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment (RAI) and ICN2.

The Private Sector Mechanism is coordinated by the International Agri-Food Network (IAFN).  Robynne Anderson (center) and her team helped orchestrate a breakthrough year for private sector participation at the CFS and related processes.

The Private Sector Mechanism is coordinated by the International Agri-Food Network (IAFN). Robynne Anderson (center) and her team helped orchestrate a breakthrough year for private sector participation at the CFS and related processes.

The PSM also arranged opportunities for the private sector to engage with CFS leadership outside of Rome. At an event co-hosted by the Global Harvest Initiative and the US Council for International Business in Washington, D.C., the Chair of the CFS, Ambassador Gerda Verburg of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, met with companies and business groups to discuss the importance of building trust between the private sector, public sector and civil society.

Global Harvest Initiative (GHI) and two of its member companies, Elanco Animal Health and Monsanto Company, were among the 45 companies and business groups from 16 countries attending the PSM annual meeting.  Over the course of three days, they participated in bi-lateral meetings with the US, Canada, Turkey and the member states from the EU, Africa, Latin America, and Asia.  They met with the Vice-Chair of the CFS, Minister Gustavo Infante and with Dan Gustafson, Deputy Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Minister Gustavo Infante, Vice-Chair of the UN Committee for World Food Security (CFS), speaks at a reception for the CFS member states and the companies and business groups that attended the Private Sector Mechanism annual meetings in Rome.

Minister Gustavo Infante, Vice-Chair of the UN Committee for World Food Security (CFS), speaks at a reception for the CFS member states and the companies and business groups that attended the Private Sector Mechanism annual meetings in Rome.

With each country delegation, the companies and business groups emphasized how the private sector is providing leadership in improving agricultural productivity, nutrition, and the empowerment of women. Companies emphasized the crucial role of trade in combating global hunger and raising people out of poverty.  The need for investments in small and medium scale producers in the form of education, inputs, and access to markets was stressed.  One example presented was Monsanto’s Farm AgVisory Services which provide Indian farmers with customized, timely information – free of charge – to help them achieve the best results with each crop.  (For more about Monsanto’s Farm AgVisory Services, page 35 of GHI’s 2015 Global Agricultural Productivity Report®.)  So too was the critical need for policy frameworks that embrace and support innovation and science and information-based technology.

“From the reception we received, it is clear that the CFS member states increasingly see the private sector as a constructive partner that is seeking to make concrete contributions to agricultural development and to ending hunger and malnutrition,” said Ann Steensland, Senior Policy Associate at GHI.   Ann observed that the PSM has become an influential advocate for policies that reduce hunger and malnutrition by creating value for farmers, consumers, and all the actors in the agricultural value chain.

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