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World Food Day, Hand in Hand Initiative of FAO, opening pathways to global investment

Every year in the month of October the international community commemorates, World Food Day. It is a celebration of the birth of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. It is also a day for raising and maintaining global attention and commitments on eliminating hunger, reducing food Insecurity and malnutrition for the marginalized population around the world.
The issue of food Insecurity has become especially acute this year, when the global food system is reeling from the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change events and geopolitical conflicts. These global-scale events have shaken the foundations of the worldwide food systems, disrupting the global trade in food; disturbance in the long-running agricultural practices, facing challenges of shifting weather patterns and unprecedented hiccups in the supply of inputs; and over stretched logistical and distribution systems. As a result, the world is facing a massive increase in food insecurity. The year 2021 added 150 million people to the category of food insecure.
The unprecedented scale of the humanitarian crises has placed a huge pressure on global resources, forcing the international community to make heartbreaking decisions; having to prioritize between more hungry and less hungry people, a distinction which should not be made.
The realization that increasing productivity does not automatically decrease, nutritional deficiency, is emerging as a new and critical challenge
With these challenges in mind, FAO hosted The World Food Forum (WFF) to brainstorm for solutions for food security in the wake of climate change. The content of discussions during the Forum focused on leveraging scientific and innovative solutions for a healthy planet. Significant time of the forum was devoted to Hand-in-Hand Investment forum in Rome, on October 18-19. The forum showcased agricultural investment opportunities of 20 food insecure countries, including the Lao PDR. The audiences were the private sector, multilaterals, and development partners.
“We are providing a platform to bring together Hand-in-Hand Initiative Investment to ensure we have open accessible finance as a key enabler needed for national transformation plans led by countries to achieve the SDGs,” noted FAO Director-General QU Dongyu.
The Lao PDR delegation at the FAO Hand-in-Hand Investment Forum was led by Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Mr. Thongpath Vongmany, who joined the FAO Representative to present the country’s case for investment.
The Lao PDR presentation generated a lot of interest from potential investors and yielded commitments from several private sector companies and multilaterals. Specifically, in the areas of expanding country’s irrigation system and farm-to-market access; production id high value Haas avocado and vanilla; and in meat processing. There was significant interest in animal feed production.
While this has been a great success for the Lao PDR, the real achievement depends on the continuous engagement of the donor community in the country’s agriculture sector.
To provide a solid platform for private-sector investment, the international donor community needs to continue helping Lao PDR to bridge near-term food shortages, improve enabling environment and fuel a long-term transformation in the agricultural sector. We need to focus our attention and scarce resources on the solutions that would bring the greatest return by addressing systemic shortcomings, like shortages of inputs for the upcoming winter plantation, the country’s resilience to climate change events, and improvements in the national policies, infrastructure and production systems.
FAO is doing its part by helping the most vulnerable communities by bridging the gaps in food production, strengthening the country’s agro-meteorological systems, boosting animal health systems, facilitating initiatives to bring investments in agricultural production and processing systems in the north of the country.
As the nations across the world are struggling to face the multiple challenges to their food systems, it is more important than ever that we make smart choices when investing limited funds. We need to make sure that we don’t just feed the hungry today but introduce sustainable solutions that will enable countries in need, to produce sufficient amounts of quality, nutritious food to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by 2030.

Source: Lao News Agency