EBRD supports a greener agribusiness

By Nibal Zgheib

EBRD supports a greener agribusiness

“Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too” is the theme of the World Food Day this year, an annual event that has been celebrated every October since 1945 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

This year’s theme underscores how interlinked climate and agriculture are. Climatic conditions determine which crops can be cultivated and influence yield. At the same time, agriculture has a major impact on the global climate. The agribusiness sector contributes significantly to climate change, emitting one third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and consuming huge amounts of water.

The global drive to combat climate change, which will be marked by the COP22 climate talks in Marrakesh, Morocco in November, is being combined with international steps to achieve food security for a growing population.

The EBRD has a long-standing relationship with FAO. Together, the two organisations help develop effective regulations that support sustainable food production and work primarily with the private sector to implement better practices and improve standards, particularly when it comes to environmental sustainability, safety and hygiene. For example, in Georgia the EBRD and FAO are making the country’s dairy sector more efficient and attractive for investors by improving the quality and safety of Georgian dairy products. 

Georgia’s dairy farmers face huge challenges to modernise and increase production – not least following the signing of a free trade agreement with Europe. The EBRD, and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations are on board to lend a hand.

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The EBRD and FAO expanded their cooperation in 2013 to help reduce the impact of agriculture on climate change by promoting investments which entail a more efficient use of water, biomass, land and energy.

Moreover, the EBRD has developed various financial tools such as the Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEFF) and the Finance and Technology Transfer Centre for Climate Change (FINTECC) programme which have been applied in the agribusiness sector to improve energy efficiency and resilience throughout the value chain, from livestock breeding and food production and packaging, to distribution and logistics optimisation.

These financial instruments help reduce the agribusiness sector’s environmental footprint by supporting projects that contribute to the reduction of GHGs, better energy and water use, reduced crop losses and food waste, and the recovery of by-products of agricultural production.

One example is the Bank’s support to Ivan Stojakovic, the manager of Woodmaster, a jam producer in the Western Balkans, to convert agricultural waste to biofuel by using plum stones for heating which leads to energy savings and reducing CO2 emissions.

In Morocco, the Bank has joined forces with FAO on a study evaluating the market penetration of climate technologies in the food sector and identifying opportunities for investment, as well as policy options for stimulating adoption of greener practices. The study has also been prepared as an input for the COP22 climate discussions.

The joint efforts of FAO and the EBRD have been followed by concrete Bank investments with strong demonstration effects. For example, the Bank is helping to increase agricultural yields in Morocco while remaining cost-efficient and environmentally friendly by supporting Elephant Vert, a producer of bio-fertilisers, bio-pesticides and bio-stimulants based in the country. The Bank’s boost for the development and distribution of these biological products should lead to significant GHG savings of over 150,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.

The EBRD will focus on how the private sector can help address climate challenges in the agribusiness sector at the Marrakesh COP22 conference. At one of the conference side events hosted by the Bank, speakers including British climate expert Professor Nicholas (Lord) Stern and EBRD Managing Director Mattia Romani will discuss the role private agribusinesses can play to counteract the intensity and the impact of climate change on their operations and the importance of government support.