A New Year, a New Strategy

At the end of 2018, we are proud to present our new strategy: ‘Towards a Just and Dignified World’. It outlines the rationale for our work and explains how, and where, we will place our efforts in the coming five years in order to achieve our goals, which are closely aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals 2 (Zero Hunger) and 8 (Economic Empowerment).

A New Year, a New Strategy

Strong and sustainable agricultural systems enable farmers, agripreneurs, and small and
medium enterprises (SMEs) to create food security and decent jobs, especially for women and youth. Our objective is to empower these diverse actors at every level of the value chain to play their part in transforming agricultural systems. We want to ensure the viability of small-farm economies as a contribution to fighting poverty and undernourishment in developing countries. We do this by improving production skills and livelihoods at the farmer household level and creating employment and sustainable income for thousands of people through well-functioning SMEs, cooperatives and other agricultural enterprises.

We mainly focus on women and youth. Women make up 43% of the overall agricultural workforce, and in many societies they have the primary responsibility for agricultural production, processing and food preparation. Young people are also critical to future economic development. However, the potential is currently not being realized. Across many developing countries and emerging economies, the majority of youth are unemployed, or do not earn a living wage, and hence they cannot lift themselves out of poverty. Addressing this youth employment crisis is a critical component of ICCO programs.

Goals and priority topics

Food and nutrition security and economic empowerment of smallholder farmers and SMEs form the backbone of our work. We recognize, however, that the bulk of our work takes place in fragile contexts. This is the reason why we also focus on strengthening the resilience of communities to adapt to the consequences of climate change and to cope with threats from natural disasters and conflict.

Within these goals, we have chosen specific priority topics. These are:

  1. Blending Finance: ICCO designs tailor-made and flexible funding mechanisms that allow for the combined use of grants, microfinance, loans, equity and guarantees as needed and when appropriate. By using blending finance, we can chose for the strategy which fits the best.
  2. Climate-Resilient Food Systems: Climate change poses a growing threat to the future of agriculture and food systems globally. ICCO strives for the promotion of “Climate-Resilient Food Systems” for smallholder farmers.
  3. New Technologies: Digital technologies allow resource-poor farming communities, especially youth, to solve some of the main challenges they face, as well as access a range of services and inputs that were unattainable before. ICCO is increasingly looking at using mobile phone services as a means to transform agribusiness and to foster greater accountability.
  4. Youth Entrepreneurship: Young people equipped with entrepreneurship-, social, life and technical skills are better able to navigate the challenges of today’s rapidly changing job market. The convergence of the digital revolution and agribusinesses can work as a catalyst for economic growth, thereby creating jobs and business opportunities for youth.

Sustainable Development Goals

Our three overall thematic goals are closely aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals framework. Our goal Food and Nutrition Security associates with SDG 2 “Zero Hunger” and our goal Economic Empowerment with SDG 8 “Decent Work and Economic Growth”. In order to address the multiple linkages across these goals, we also take into account SDGs 10, 12 and 17.

Download Strategic Review 2018-2020: Towards a Just and Dignified World.

Author Marinus Verweij
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