The EBRD Private Sector for Food Security Initiative: it’s all about quality

By Nibal Zgheib

EBRD Private Sector for Food Security Initiative
©FAO/Vasily Maximov

The Initiative fosters private sector involvement in food security
 
The EBRD’s Private Sector for Food Security Initiative continues to support the agribusiness sector, championing the role of private companies in boosting food production, improving food quality and setting incentives to create the right policy environment for sector-wide growth. The Initiative fosters private sector involvement in food security with the view that food production is first and foremost a private sector activity.
 
As outlined in the 2014 Annual Report, last year the EBRD mobilised €5.3 million for technical assistance in the agribusiness sector in 21 countries. The Initiative aims to unlock the region’s vast potential in food production focusing not only on producing more food, but also better food. The Initiative complemented the Bank’s agribusiness investments, which were kept high at €860 million in over 56 projects.
 
Launched in 2011, the Private Sector for Food Security Initiative initially focused on enhancing productivity and providing more access to finance for primary agriculture. In recent years, improving food quality and safety standards has emerged as a pressing issue for producers in the region, as well as assisting companies to invest in new technologies, storage and logistics, to increase efficiency and reduce losses.
 
The 2014 Annual Report highlights achievements in keeping with the Initiative’s main priorities:
 
Upgrading food quality standards and animal welfare practices
 
Producing high-quality food means higher proceeds, but also more investment. Building on their success in Croatia, the EBRD and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are working in Montenegro and Serbia to develop food quality labels for traditional food products in competitive markets.
 
The EBRD also supports agribusiness companies to move towards improved food safety, quality and animal welfare standards to tap into advanced markets as per the recommendations of the EastAgri meeting “Best Food: How to produce both quality and quantity in Europe and Central Asia”, organised in June 2014 with the FAO and supported by the World Bank.
 
Improving policy transparency through public-private platforms
 
Together with the FAO, the EBRD facilitates public-private platforms to improve policy transparency and predictability, thus increasing investor confidence in the agribusiness sector. In 2014 they supported a dairy working group in Ukraine that collaborated with the government on a law amendment to set controls for disease prevention and food safety which came into effect in record time.
 
Linking exporters and importers to enhance global supply chains
 
The Initiative focuses on linking exporters from the transition region with importers from the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region and new markets. Facilitating this connection increases investments in the agribusiness sector and boosts production and trade predictability in food-exporting countries, while improving import efficiency and minimising losses in food-importing countries.
 
Responding to price volatility through improved access to finance
 
Access to credit is a constant and cyclical challenge for agricultural producers around the world, which has a strong impact on the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises. The EBRD is helping countries to implement pre- and post-harvest credit solutions.
 
Advice for Agribusiness
 
The EBRD expanded its advisory support for local agribusiness companies to 15 countries in 2014. Experienced industry advisers helped companies improve their efficiency and grow to become catalysts of their economy.
 
In 2015 the EBRD and the FAO will intensify their efforts through new partnerships with high-level regional actors. Together with the Union for the Mediterranean, the EBRD and the FAO will engage further on enhancing food security in SEMED, specifying priorities at the upcoming “Private sector forum on food security in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region” on 5-6 May in Barcelona.
 
2014 Annual Report: EBRD Private Sector for Food Security