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Principles and examples of good, responsible investments in smallholder agriculture

By Aksel Naerstad, International Coordinator of the More and Better Network
More and Better encourages its partners and friends to engage in the discussions about Principles on Responsible Agricultural Investment to be developed by the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and likely to be adopted in October 2014. The first draft of the document will be released this month (April 2013). You can engage by organizing your own consultations and/or participating in consultations organized by others. There will be also Regional civil society consultations and regional multistakeholders consultations organized respectively by the Civil Society Mechanism and the CFS secretariat.

Different kind of investments
The small scale farmers are the largest investors in agriculture. It’s important to underline that in the discussions. The investments, support and political frameworks and regulations by the governments are crucial for developing sustainable and viable agriculture. That must be at the centre of the discussions. But the third type of investments, from private investors and  funds  must also be central for the debate. The focus by most civil society organizations is on stopping land grabbing, reduce the power of the multinational companies, improve labour condition for agricultural workers,  etc..  There is a strong need to point out the negative effects of a lot of the private investments and to develop guidelines to avoid such investments which destroy the livelihoods for family farmers and harm the environment. However, there is also a need to come up with examples of and to develop guidelines for how private investments can play a positive role, especially in cooperation with small scale farmers. 

Examples are important – not only principles!
We need to find and promote examples of investments in agriculture which have had a positive impact, especially for small scale farmers. There are many examples of different sustainable and viable forms of agriculture. You will find a lot of them on www.ag-transition.org, and more are needed (post them on that website!).
BUT there are very few examples of positive private investments in small scale agriculture from others than the farmers themselves. More and Better would like to challenge all of you to come up with examples on this. We need to come up with examples of and principles for positive, responsible investments from private capital from others than the farmers themselves. Please send such examples to secretariat@moreandbetter.org 

Civil society meeting and open ended working group in May in Rome
The open ended working group organized by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) to develop the Principles on Responsible Agricultural Investment will meet in Rome on May 16-17th. All governments which want to take part, will be there, and civil society organizations will have our own people taking part on equal level as the governments. There will be a meeting for civil society organizations on May 15th to prepare for the meeting, organized by Civil Society Mechanism(CSM) in CFS. More and Better will take part in these meetings.