Empowering young agri-entrepreneurs to invest in agriculture and food systems
The achievement of the SDGs requires a significant mobilization of investments in the agri-food sector. Strategically targeted interventions from the public sector will be essential to steer sustainable private-sector driven growth. Measures that empower young agri-entrepreneurs should be a key component of such a SDG-centred investment promotion strategy. The very realization of future generations’ food security, the sustainable transformation of food systems and the combat against unemployment all depend upon an increased attractiveness of the agri-food sector for the youth.
This activity is implemented in Tunisia by a tripartite partnership between FAO, the Tunisian Agricultural Investment Promotion Agency (APIA) and the National Agricultural Research Institute (INRAT), with financial support from Switzerland and FAO’s Flexible Multidonor Mechanism, and technical support from the Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH-HAFL). The activity was launched in June 2019 following a request from the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources. A strategic planning process was carried out by INRAT, in collaboration with FAO and BFH-HAFLL resulting in the identification of a region with a high investment need (the North-West) and two value chains with a considerable investment potential (olive oil and dairy sheep); as well as key investment bottlenecks. A roadmap to stimulate investments by young agri-entrepreneurs was elaborated and validated based on this assessment in February 2020. Subsequently, the implementation of the roadmap has been supported through an innovative partnership. First, a multi-stakeholder think tank (approximately 80 members) led by INRAT was set up in October 2020 to formulate feasible recommendations to implement the roadmap. A series of short-term recommendations will be pilot-tested under a new AgriAccelerator hub managed by APIA and FAO (between April and November 2021). Ultimately, through this piloting exercise, recommendations are expected to become waterproof and ideally incorporated into national investment promotion activities.
The activity has had the following positive results: 1. An enhanced institutionalized collaboration between science and policy which has been facilitated through an integrated approach of research and advocacy (multi-stakeholder think tank) and direct support to young agri-entrepreneurs (AgriAccelerator); 2. Inclusive policy dialogue through the creation of a platform which encourages youth participation; and 3. A set of recommendations which were validated by all key stakeholders and which aim to empower young agri-entrepreneurs through: enhanced inter-institutional collaboration and concertation; improved access to finance; increased access to information. In addition, it is expected that the pilot-testing of these recommendations with a group of young agri-entrepreneurs will: i) stimulate SDG-aligned agribusiness investment and support the emergence of sustainable and resilient SMEs; ii) facilitate incorporation of recommendations into frameworks and practices.
This activity benefitted from the support of the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) and the Swiss National FAO Committee (CNS-FAO). A country- and demand-driven approach ensure its success, as the activity was implemented following a request from the Tunisian government and country institutions are the lead implementing institutions. As everywhere in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has required an adaptation of initial plans. In particular, the multi-stakeholder think tank has been fully virtual resulting in even broader participation of youth in working and validation exercises.
Due to the country-driven approach and commitment, strong inter-institutional collaborative frameworks have been created which will allow for the sustainability of the process. In particular, a strong capacity has been built with INRAT to manage multi-stakeholder platforms as a neutral convener. Lessons learned from the activity are being constantly documented and experience capitalization will allow for an easy replicability in other countries. For example, the initial strategic planning process has been documented and resulted in the development of a “Strategic Planning Tool” which is publically available.
Website: http://www.fao.org/in-action/responsible-agricultural-investments/en/ Publications: Strategic planning tool: https://doi.org/10.4060/cb1367en Promouvoir et pérenniser les investissements des jeunes agri-entrepreneurs en Tunisie: https://doi.org/10.4060/cb0943fr Tunisia policy brief with key recommendations from Phase I: http://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/cb0884fr Videos: Webcast event: “Stimuler et pérenniser les investissements des jeunes agri-entrepreneurs”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsONKWnoYpU Favoriser les investissements responsables des jeunes agri-entrepreneurs – Tunis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=er7rgs3CSVs
COVID-19 has impacted the delivery of the project as the multi-stakeholder think tank was envisaged to organize regular face-to-face meetings of its different work streams. Against the backdrop of the pandemic, it was decided to organize all working sessions and validation exercises fully virtually. This adaptation has resulted in a more inclusive decision-making process than was initially envisaged. In particular, the validation consultations resulted in the participation of more than 180 individuals, most of which are young agri-entrepreneurs. In general, the activity also provides direct support in building back better. Investments in agriculture and food systems are needed not only to mitigate and recover from the pandemic’s short- and long-term impacts on food and nutrition security and rebuild economies, but also to create decent employment opportunities for the youth.
SDGS & Targets
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Deliverables & Timeline
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