FAO’s new State of Food and Agriculture report, launched today, shows that farmers are by far the largest source of investment in agriculture, but their investments are often limited by unfavourable investment climates.
At the launch of the report in Rome, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva called for “a new investment strategy… that puts agricultural producers at its centre.”
“The challenge is to focus the investments in areas where they can make a difference. This is important to guarantee that investments will result in high economic and social returns and environmental sustainability.”
New data compiled for the report show that farmers in low- and middle-income countries invest more than $170 billion a year in their farms – about $150 per farmer. This is three times as much as all other sources of investment combined, four times more than contributions by the public sector, and more than 50 times more than official development assistance to these countries.
Investing in agriculture is clearly paying off, according to the report. Over the last 20 years, for example, the countries with the highest rates of on-farm investment have made the most progress in halving hunger, to meet the first Millennium Development Goal.
The regions where hunger and extreme poverty are most widespread – South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa – have seen stagnant or declining rates of agricultural investment over three decades.
“Recent evidence shows signs of improvement, but eradicating hunger in these and other regions, and achieving this sustainably, will require substantial increases in the level of farm investment in agriculture and dramatic improvements in both the level and quality of government investment in the sector,” the report said.
Writing in today’s Guardian, Graziano da Silva said:
“To end hunger and malnutrition, feed the world’s growing population, and safeguard our food security and environment, we must invest more in agriculture. But we must also invest better.”