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FFA2019 : The next generation
Tuesday, April 9, 2019
Square, Brussels

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FFA2019 post-event blog 2:
Three key policies to balance the next generation’s needs

27th Apr 2019
Ertharin Cousin

During her opening address, Ertharin Cousin, the 12th Executive Director, United Nations World Food Programme (2012-2017) identified three key policies to balance the next generation’s needs with the planet’s finite resources.

The first is to replace silo thinking and behaviour with partnerships and collective action across entire value and supply chains, especially in the developing world. “Much is happening, yet the efforts remain disjointed, small scale and too often, despite everything we know, still unsustainable,” she explained. In the same vein, while applauding the FFA’s record in bringing agricultural and environmental interests together, she urged the water and energy communities be invited to join the discussions.

The partnerships would focus not just on agricultural productivity, but also on the environment, water, logistics, markets, consumer demand and disposal. They would agree policies and activities to create the coherence required to achieve sustainability and prosperity, particularly for young farmers and agripreneurs.

Secondly, policy changes are needed to create the enabling environment for market-driven solutions to successfully tackle the challenges of raising incomes and living standards in the agricultural community. Prof Cousin recommended the use of scorecards to measure the regulatory environment, including quantifiable business policy and systems, as the African Union had introduced for agricultural transformation in January 2018.

“They make a difference because even for governments, naming and shaming does matter and incentivises government action,” she said, making a strong plea for the policy changes “to eliminate perverse incentives and subsidies”. The third priority is provision of adequate sustainable capital to make agriculture profitable, so encouraging young people into farming.

This requires investment in infrastructure, education and off-farm development, including ag tech and innovation. To attract finance from the €500 trillion held in sovereign, pension and family funds, she pointed out that investing in agricultural productivity is one of the most effective ways to advance youth livelihood.

“Smart investors understand investing in agriculture and food may not provide immediate returns, but over the long term these investments can pay off handsomely,” she said.

Watch videos of all the sessions at FFA2019 here >