Governments and businesses join UNDP to boost sustainable agriculture

Published on Tuesday, 19 June 2012 09:35
Posted by Scott Buckler

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) presented an initiative to boost sustainable agriculture in developing countries through partnerships between governments, businesses and smallholder farmers to coordinate the production and export of key commodities like coffee, grains and cocoa

UNDP’s ‘Building Tomorrow’s Markets’ initiative is an alliance with donor and producer governments including Denmark, Costa Rica, Ghana, Indonesia and companies like Kraft, Johnson & Johnson and IKEA.  It aims to assist governments in establishing commodity platforms where public and private sector partners convene to help scale up sustainable production, also improving policy reform and planning, increasing access to finance and providing training—particularly to low-income producers, many of them women.

“Adopting and promoting sustainable production practices require concerted effort, something which in practice is too often missing or insufficient. Making this shift at the scale required demands forward-looking leadership in the public and private sectors alike,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, presenting the initiative at the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum, which gathered thousands of representatives from hundreds of governments, private sector and NGOs to strengthen businesses’ contribution to sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 15-18 June.

 “Concerted action and collaboration between the public and private sector to scale up sustainable production of agricultural commodities can pave the way for smallholder farmers’ right to a better life,” said Christian Friis Bach, Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, also expressing support for the initiative and the Government of Denmark’s intentions to initially support the development of a new national platform for sustainable coffee production in Ethiopia.

As the main driver of growth and the largest employer in many developing countries, agriculture represents an opportunity to reach the poor population. More than two-thirds of people living on less than $1 a day work in agriculture—with women being a significant proportion.

In Indonesia, a national palm oil platform will be launched next month to boost smallholder palm oil producers’ livelihoods and reduce deforestation by engaging major producing groups and large buying companies, including IKEA, Kraft and Johnson & Johnson, in a new UNDP-Government of Indonesia partnership.

In Ghana, where 1.4 million people’s livelihoods depend on cocoa production, UNDP is partnering with the Government, Kraft Foods and other actors such as the World Cocoa Foundation to establish the public-private commodity platform by the end of 2012. 

“We need to make cocoa production more sustainable and inclusive if we want to ensure stable supplies in the longer term, said Fabio Acerbi, Corporate Affairs Director at Kraft. “This makes sense both from a development as well as a business standpoint and it can only be achieved if we make cocoa farming more attractive for the next generation, and work closely with cocoa communities, in partnership with governments, the private and nonprofit sectors.”

In Costa Rica, the Government and UNDP recently established a National Pineapple Platform which has brought together local producers, domestic and international buyers, NGOs, and other stakeholders to scale up the sustainable production of pineapple, one of the country’s most profitable crops.  As a result, regulations are being updated and national and multinational companies have stepped up efforts to support farmers’ shift to sustainable practices, helping share best practices and encouraging research.

The event ended with a call for governments, business and other partners to join the initiative and help build the sustainable and inclusive markets of tomorrow.

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