Food security in a climate perspective: what role could the private sector play regarding investment in smallholder agriculture in Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia?

Published online
10 Feb 2016
Content type

Bachke, M. E. & Haug, R.

Publication language
Africa South of Sahara & Ethiopia & Malawi & Mozambique & Tanzania & Zambia


The purpose of this study is to discuss different ways of implementing the Food Security in a Climate Perspective strategy 2013-15 in relation to support to private sector development and public-private partnership (PPP) as regards agriculture, climate change and food security in Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia. We assess eleven different cases of private sector development and their relevance to smallholder investments in agriculture. An important basis for this study is the voluntary Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investments (RAI) developed by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). These guidelines define both business enterprises and smallholders as possible private sector actors, and thereby included in private sector development. The implications of the CFS-RAI guidelines is that investment in, by and with smallholders, and support to such investments, are seen as private sector development. We assess three different approaches to supporting private sector developments: (i) promote an enabling environment for private sector development; (ii) provision of public goods and services; and (iii) direct investment support. In all three approaches, the interests and needs of both business enterprises, such as companies, and smallholders should be recognized. The enabling environment should balance the needs and demands of both smallholders and business enterprises; the public enterprises, and direct support could be provided to both business enterprises and smallholders. The case studies illustrate that the three approaches are interlinked and that the economic viability of the private sector depends upon the combined effect of the three approaches. The cases also show that private sector development influences smallholder investments in different ways. For example, smallholder driven private sector development does, to a larger degree, directly influence smallholders than business enterprise driven private sector development. The cases also illustrate that the impact of private sector development on food security and climate resilience varies, and that this impact can be both positive and negative. The voluntary guidelines for responsible agricultural investments (CFS-RAI) state that these different factors should be taken into account when deciding what kind of private sector development and agro-investments to support. The case studies also indicate that it is difficult to determine the economic viability of the different companies studied, and thereby to what degree the companies contribute to economic growth. Finally, there is a need for more information to strengthen monitoring and evaluation of private sector development and its impact on poverty reduction, food security and climate resilience.

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