“If you really want to work on food security, you have to be willing to invest in the most fragile and conflicted areas of the world,” says Edith Boekraad, Food Security Director at Cordaid. But how do you increase food security in fragile contexts? This was one of the key questions discussed at the conference “The Future of African Farming” in Utrecht, which Cordaid co-organized with FoodFirst, the Rabobank and the Dutch Ministries of Foreign and Economic Affairs. Many food insecure people in Africa are living in fragile and conflict affected contexts.
According to Boekraad, a it’s essential to “make sure that local farmers can re-start their business after a conflict situation, as soon as possible. This stimulates food security and has a stabilizing effect.”
Social enabling factors
Rabobank CEO Brett Martin set the scene underlining that social enabling factors are key in successful production enhancement, financing and investment. Farmer organization and education and training are necessary requirements for successful and efficient int erventions. Therefore those factors should get a higher priority in development policy.
Steve Wiggins of ODI (United Kingdom) considered that in fragile contexts, development funds can best be spent on rural public goods (roads, health, education, farmer organization, etc.) to improve the rural investment climate. Wiggins pointed to the general failure of rural markets in fragile contexts and favored institutional innovations to address market failure (e.g. through farmer associations, contract farming, input dealer training, service package delivery) with particular roles for civil society and development NGOs.
Stability Impact Fund
Speakers and students from South Sudan, South Africa, DR Congo and Kenya shared their take on the role of public development funding in fostering food security and economic development in Africa. Cordaid is pleased by the explicit attention for food security in fragile contexts. Cordaid COO Henri van Eeghen called upon the Dutch government and the Rabobank to jointly establish a new Stability Impact Fund for financing smallholder farming and rural development in fragile contexts.
— Gemma Franke (@GemmaFranke) June 22, 2015
The conference was attended by some 400 participants from Dutch civil society organizations, government, finance and private sector. The Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization José Graziano da Silva made a keynote speech at the conference, as did Sharon Dijksma, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economic Affiairs. Queen Máxima honored the conference with her attendance.