UAE – The UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have jointly launched the Agrifood Systems Transformation Accelerator (ASTA), a global program aimed at assisting Least Developed Countries in improving their agrifood systems’ effectiveness, inclusivity, resilience, and sustainability through the creation of partnerships and public-private investments.

On the fringes of the Fifth UN Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Doha, Qatar, the launch took place at a bilateral discussion between FAO Director-General QU Dongyu and his UNIDO counterpart, Gerd Mueller.

“Addressing the future of agrifood systems requires a holistic view covering many topics, such as the climate crisis, agricultural production, value chain efficiency, inclusion, nutrition, land use, and biodiversity, among others. ASTA offers a concrete tool to help countries realize the objective of agrifood systems transformation,” Qu said.

In order to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ASTA serves as the first focal point of a new partnership between FAO and UNIDO.

It encourages investment in the agrifood systems of some of the world’s poorest nations through the creation of value chains, market systems, business models, and inclusive finance.

“ASTA identifies investment opportunities and helps channel those investments into food value chains. With such efforts, FAO and UNIDO are natural partners. Our expertise and efforts complement each other. I am very proud of our cooperation with FAO,” Mueller said.

ASTA’s launch comes at a time when our agrifood systems are threatened under the pressure of the climate crisis, ongoing conflicts, and war, as well as the protracted impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This requires a fresh approach and novel solutions.

ASTA carries out this by eliminating silos through extensive public-private partnerships, eliminating traditional top-down support, putting beneficiaries in charge, adopting the ONE UN approach, which sees various UN organizations work together to support countries in more synergistic ways, and moving away from focusing on specific SDG indicators.

This transition is particularly pertinent for LDCs, where several impediments frequently obstruct urgent change and where integrated solutions based on inter-ministerial and public-private sector collaborations are crucial.

Moreover, the program aids nations in making the transition from broad suggestions and policies to practical implementation with discernible effects.

Since 2018, the ASTA method has been put to the test in 15 nations in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, the Pacific, and South America.

One example where the ASTA model has been successfully tested is in Suriname where governmental financing of U.S$2 million was acquired to encourage U.S$8 million in private investments to improve its pineapple value chain.

The goal for ASTA over the next five years is to attract at least U.S$300 million in private investment.

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