The Africa Regional Forum on the Hand-in-Hand Initiative (HiHI) to boost Agriculture Investment brought together over 100 stakeholders from across the African continent for an online session over two days to discuss and deliberate on ways to accelerate collective efforts to facilitate and stimulate investments for agrifood systems transformation through the Hand-in-Hand approach.
The Forum provided a platform for dialogue, collaboration, and knowledge-sharing among Member Countries, regional authorities, national, regional, and international financial institutions, development partners, the private sector, civil society organizations, producer organizations and international experts.
Sub-Saharan Africa has witnessed a distressing upward trend in hunger since 2010 due to combined challenges including climate change, conflicts, and economic conditions. Africa is home to the highest proportion of the population facing hunger compared to other regions of the world, and more than 1 billion Africans cannot afford a healthy diet.
‘’Collective action and participation will remain the instrumental players in bringing transformative changes to Africa’s agrifood systems. Each of us has a role to play in the Initiative. I urge all of you to do your part, be it investment at country level, knowledge sharing, and contributions to best practices, ‘’ said Abebe Haile-Gabriel, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa.
The FAO Hand-in-Hand Initiative (HiHI) was established to address the food crisis and support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of eradicating poverty (SDG1), ending hunger and malnutrition (SDG2), and reducing inequality (SDG10) by taking a market-oriented approach to increase the quantity, quality, diversity, and accessibility of nutritious food in local, national and regional food markets. The Initiative seeks to maximize the agricultural earnings of the rural poor, generate revenue for public investments in sustainability, and involve stakeholders in a country-led and country-owned process.
As of now, FAO is working in 35 sub-Saharan countries with government and other stakeholders on HiHI activities and has supported the countries to elaborate investment cases and convene multi-stakeholder forums for matchmaking and facilitating investments. Mali and Zimbabwe, for example, organized national Hand-in-Hand Investment Forums which encouraged a groundswell of interest and commitment.
At this critical juncture in the effort to achieve the SDGs, this online roundtable was convened by the FAO Regional Office for Africa on 30-31 August 2023 to inspire greater involvement in the Initiative within the Africa region, following the success of the inaugural global HiHI Investment Forum 2022 in Rome last October, as well as to effectively prepare for the upcoming second global HiHI Investment Forum 2023 in Rome this October.
Twelve African countries presented their investment cases: Cameroon, Ethiopia, the Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Togo and Zimbabwe, in addition to the Regional Initiative for the Sahel. The representatives called for the total investment of USD 10 billion to directly impact on more than 70 million people, smallholder producers in Africa. It was followed by responses, Q&A, and discussions among stakeholders – including the European Union, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Mastercard Foundation, and the World Bank.
At the first edition of the global HiHI Investment Forum 2022, 20 countries including 7 Sub Saharan countries, presented their investment cases worth USD 3 billion, and out of which USD 1 billion has been mobilized.
FAO will continuously to support the high-level delegation of the countries to join the global HiHI Investment Forum 2023 and to facilitate matchmaking with potential partners and investors as well as to mobilize needed investment to achieve the 2030 Agenda through the transformation to MORE efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind.