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GAFSP raises $300M at replenishment kickoff

A farmer irrigating his crops at a farm in Nangarhar, Afghanistan. Photo by: Rumi Consultancy / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

Originally published on devex.

WASHINGTON — The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program raised $300 million of a desired $1.5 billion Tuesday at its replenishment kickoff event hosted by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

GAFSP, a financing instrument hosted by the World Bank, was launched by the Group of 20 major economies after the 2007-2008 food price crises to increase investment in agriculture and food security. Since 2010, it has invested $1.6 billion in 45 countries, and GAFSP is now seeking funding through 2025 to serve an additional 10 million people and create an additional 1 million jobs.

“The goal of the program is to help us all engage with farmers, countries, and businesses in a way that is flexible, impactful, and complementary to our own efforts,” said Martien van Nieuwkoop, global director of the World Bank’s agriculture and food global practice. “There remains much to be done, and impactful, targeted financing continues to be a critical need even as we embark on long-term food systems transformation.”

GAFSP supports medium- to long-term targeted investments in agriculture and food security in the poorest countries. It invests along the entire food value chain, from farm to fork, to improve the availability of sufficient food to feed the world’s growing population. GAFSP does not implement projects but offers “a diverse and flexible” range of public and private investment tools, including grants, concessional loans, blended finance, technical assistance, and advisory services.

“Helping small-scale farmers is one of the best ways to respond to impacts of COVID-19, to reduce global hunger, and mitigate the effects of climate change.” - Bill Gates, co-chair and trustee, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

In addition to the World Bank, GAFSP partners with the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization, Inter-American Development Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Food Programme. The International Finance Corporation manages its private sector window.

According to GAFSP, the first 10 years of operation saw it provide financing to 13 million farmers and families, including 5 million women and girls. Half of program funds were spent in fragile or conflict-affected countries.

“These farmers need the private sector to deliver services to them because they are underserved in many cases. Unfortunately, the private sector has been struggling to get to them because of some of the challenges. … How do you get good technologies to farmers somewhere where road access is difficult?” said Agnes Kalibata, president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and special envoy for the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit. “We need to double down if we are going to be able to serve these farmers.”

Several countries announced pledges at Tuesday’s event, including host Germany, which committed €200 million ($235 million). Spain pledged €10 million, Norway pledged $42 million, and Australia pledged $10 million. Representatives from the Netherlands and the U.K. delivered remarks but did not announce new funds. Philanthropist Bill Gates announced that his foundation will continue supporting GAFSP, making a $10 million pledge.

“Two-thirds of GAFSP projects have helped farmers adapt to climate change by encouraging innovations like more efficient irrigation and drought-tolerant seeds,” Gates said. “Helping small-scale farmers is one of the best ways to respond to impacts of COVID-19, to reduce global hunger, and mitigate the effects of climate change.”

Even before COVID-19, the world was dangerously off track to meet Sustainable Development Goal 2, on zero hunger, by 2030. Conflict, extreme weather, and pest infestations were already threatening smallholder farmers, who produce 80% of the world’s safe, healthy, and affordable food. There were 690 million hungry people in 2019, and now due to COVID-19, FAO estimates an additional 83 million to 152 million could go hungry this year. New research from Ceres2030 finds that donors must double aid, contributing an additional $14 billion per year over the next 10 years, to sustainably end hunger.

In response to the pandemic, GAFSP fast-tracked nearly $60 million, providing additional funding to 16 ongoing projects led by countries and producer organizations that could respond quickly on the ground. Natasha Hayward, GAFSP program head, said much more can still be done to help farmers, businesses, and countries recover and grow in the medium to long term.

“Our work is more urgent than ever,” Hayward said. “Increasing global hunger and food insecurity — already compounded by climate change, conflict, and economic instability — are further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a confluence of challenging events that will have an impact on global food systems for years to come.”