25 April 2014, 19:50

GAFSP financing trouble – an issue of trust?

GAFSP financing trouble – an issue of trust?
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Obama Administration has appealed to international donors seeking their support to expand global agriculture and food security program. With the food security problem increasingly pressing, isn’t it a paradox that the international community would hesitate to support the US global initiative? Voice of Russia is discussing the issue with Guy Evers, Deputy Director at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization Investment Centre, and Pankaj Kumar, Head of Programmes At Plan International Ethiopia Country Office.

The program was established by the US in 2007-08 in the wake of the food price crisis.

In October 2012, the United States challenged the international community to provide much needed funding for food security, by committing to contribute $1 to GAFSP for every $2 from other donors, up to a maximum U.S. contribution of $475 million. Since the announcement of the funding challenge, other donors have provided $230 million in new pledges. An additional $720 million in pledges from other donors is needed in order to fully leverage matching funds from the United States.

Guy Evers:

Not all the countries see the GAFSP as the best mechanism. Some countries have their own priorities or their own approaches and commitments through different channels.

So, I don’t think it is a problem of the incentive. And you could also say that because of the economic crisis ongoing it has been much more challenging for a number of countries to support and to increase their assistance to development, including the agriculture development and food security.

Do you think we could expand a little bit on the essence of the GAFSP?

This is a multi-donor trust fund which is managed by the World Bank. Its major objective is to support medium- and long-term interventions to ensure strong and stable policies, and also to increase investment in agriculture in the poorest countries in the world.

This program focuses on agricultural productivity growth, better linking farmers to markets and increasing capacity and technical skills of the people. Of course, the ultimate goal is to increase food security.

This is basically a mechanism, which allows the low-income and food-deficit countries to access additional funding for the food security interventions. So far, about 25 countries of which 14 are in Africa have received the grants.

Pankaj Kumar:

GAFSP is a very good program that actually focuses on small-scale farmers and the families. It is a very effective way of reducing the poverty.

Does a government of a recipient country have any means to ensure that its national food security is upheld within this program?

This differs from country to country. If a country has a national food security plan, any kind of global agricultural food security program could become a part of that national food security strategy. In Ethiopia the good thing is that the government is leading the process and it has got its policy, and it has got its planning that it would like to improve the food security situation in the next five years.

In this context, what I’m seeing is that when it is a part of the national planning, it is very useful. However, in countries where it is not part of the national program, it is a standalone program with very limited linkages, it is possible that those programs will not be able to achieve an impact other than the beneficiaries which it is targeting.

Does the program also provide to business to business contacts?

Yes, there are two kinds of modalities of this program. One is the public sector, another is the private sector. Now, it depends on the country’s strategy. In some countries it is actually linking the private sector. But the private sector experiments are being funded for the last few months. So, the initial results have not yet come. What I’ve seen in Ethiopia, in terms of public sector, it has slowly-slowly started giving the direct results.

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