Canada’s is committed to helping increase global food security and nutrition. To this end, at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie today announced Canada’s partnership with WEF in the Global Challenge on Food Security and Agriculture. As part of the partnership, Minister Paradis outlined Canada’s related commitment to support WEF’s newest regional platform Grow Asia, developed in partnership with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat.
Canada and WEF will work together on three global areas: 1) advancing global leadership and commitment through a high-level group of Global Agenda Trustees on Food Security and Agriculture; 2) supporting country transformations through partnerships, including Grow Africa and Grow Asia and other national initiatives; and 3) promoting innovation and best practice through a Transformation Leaders Network focused on key issues in the agricultural sector.
Grow Asia is a new regional multi-stakeholder initiative being created by WEF in partnership with the ASEAN Secretariat. It is part of WEF’s public-private partnership to improve food security and agricultural development in 16 countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa.
Similar to Grow Africa, WEF’s other regional initiative, the Grow Asia initiative will support regional efforts to engage the private sector and identify opportunities for collaboration in addressing food security and agricultural development challenges in the ASEAN region.
Grow Asia aims to reach 10 million smallholder farmers in the ASEAN region by 2020, and enable them to increase their yield and profits by 20 percent, with 20 percent less use of water and 20 percent less greenhouse gas emissions per ton of production.
Its main activity will be to bring together donors, non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, and the private sector partners in discussions aimed at enabling private and public investment in agriculture.
Food insecurity and malnutrition continue to be among the most pressing global development challenges. Rapid population growth, increasing urbanization, and growing scarcity of natural resources continue to threaten the global food security landscape. These challenges call for a greater focus and development of agriculture and food systems. Agriculture remains the most significant generator of employment, income and livelihoods for the majority of the food insecure in most developing countries.
The global transition to sustainable food and agriculture systems will require all stakeholders—civil society organizations, farmers, the food and agriculture industry, researchers, scientists, all levels of government and international organizations—to be working together. Canada is committed to deepening and broadening its engagement with these stakeholders.
To deliver on its commitment, Canada is focusing on working more closely with the private sector, including agribusiness, farmer organizations and smallholder farmers, whom we consider indispensable players in the future of poverty reduction and development in achieving development outcomes. For example:
- Canada is leading the implementation of AgResults, an innovative G-20 initiative that aims to stimulate private sector investment in agricultural research to deliver food security results in developing countries. Commonly known as an advanced market commitment, AgResults emphasizes accountability and innovation, and only disburses public funds to partners that demonstrate measurable results in targeted areas such as improving harvest management and nutritional fortification of staple foods. Initial pilot projects of AgResults will aim to improve on-farm storage technology, develop and disseminate biofortified crops, and reduce grain losses caused by fungal diseases in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Canada also provides funding to HarvestPlus, a global research program that works to reduce micronutrient malnutrition by breeding key crops (for example, potatoes, beans, rice, wheat, maize, cassava) to produce varieties with higher nutritional value. Through this research program, private sector partnerships are built to scale up seed systems for biofortified crops. For example, in India, it is piloting a collaboration with private seed companies that tests new varieties, evaluates farmer preferences, assesses their market potential and directly markets seeds.
- Canada, along with Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States, supports the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program’s Private Sector Window. It is another unique multidonor trust fund and partnership among developing countries, development partners, civil society, and the private sector that has proven to be key in finding innovative financing methods for smallholder farmers and small and medium-sized agribusiness firms. The Private Sector Window was established to provide long- and short-term loans, credit guarantees and equity to support private sector activities for improving agricultural development and food security.
- Canada supports the Zinc Alliance for Child Health, an innovative public–private–civil society partnership between Teck Resources, a Canadian private sector company, and the Micronutrient Initiative, a global leader in nutrition. Presently underway in four sub-Saharan African countries, the alliance aims to improve child survival by delivering zinc supplements and oral rehydration salts to treat diarrhea, one of the most common killers of children in developing countries.
- Canada’s development assistance has helped Vietnam move toward a modernized food quality and safety system, opening up new opportunities for small businesses and smallholder farmers. For example, Canada helped farmers adopt internationally recognized Good Agricultural Practices for key agri-food products, significantly reducing levels of contaminants in fruits, vegetables, poultry and pork. Canada’s long-term relationships with select provinces have also been catalytic in replicating key Vietnamese innovations such as environmentally sound higher-value-added rice varieties, and has produced self-sustaining rural enterprises in profitable areas such as dairy production.
For further information on Canada’s development assistance work aimed at increasing food security visit Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada’s website.