Monday, 28 May 2012

Is The New Alliance the true alliance?

By Noshua Watson

Private sector companies have pledged $3 billion over ten years on inclusive agricultural value chain initiatives in The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. This new alliance is one promoted achievement of the recent G8 meeting at Camp David. Initiatives that harness private sector investment are key, but I there are some questions…

As a bit of background…
The program will launch in Tanzania, Ghana and Ethiopia and then expand to other countries in the Grow Africa partnership. This combination of aid donor, African country government and private sector commitments began as part of the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative in 2008, with the intention to improve food security, integrate small holder farmers and improve nutrition.  Particularly, The New Alliance will focus on technological innovation; financing (especially for infrastructure); risk management strategies; and nutrition (focusing on mothers and children).

The recent follow-up report on L’Aquila finds that the G8 and developing countries have largely met their funding commitments and agricultural production, trade volumes and regional trade have grown. However, the national agriculture investment plans are about 50 per cent underfunded and despite the apparent economic growth, the performance indicators do not sufficiently account for gender and allow proper monitoring and evaluation of mother and child nutrition outcomes, mostly due to a lack of private sector investment.

Is The New Alliance learning from past practices or ignoring them?
So, if the context is anything to go by, The New Alliance is a direct response to poor funding and a miniscule private sector involvement. However, the lack of mention of any involvement by NGOs like Oxfam GB or the Fairtrade Foundation is disappointing to say the least, as they are greatly invested in improving smallholder opportunities and have experience in working with the private sector on these types of initiatives. It is a shame to leave NGOs and other experienced sectors out of the process.