FAO and SEED launch SDG Agrifood Accelerator Programme for innovators

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Rome – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the SEED partnership today officially launched the SDG Agrifood Accelerator Programme, an instrument designed to help agrifood system start-ups develop their businesses while contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Alternative approaches and innovative solutions are needed to transform global agrifood systems in the face of challenges such as rapid population growth, economic downturns, extreme climates and changing consumption patterns.

During a virtual event held at FAO’s headquarters in Rome, 12 innovators from around the world used a workshop to showcase how they are contributing to the SDGs while supporting such a transformation in their local context.

The small- and medium-sized enterprises were selected among the hundreds that comprise the portfolio of the adelphi-hosted SEED partnership. They are to be supported by the programme in three areas: financial readiness, innovation potential, and market reach. The kind of help they will receive includes assistance in the development of business, marketing or investment plans, as well as advice on how to approach potential financiers or on how to go digital.

“Together with SEED we want to explore how the innovators involved can make a difference in the transformation of agrifood systems locally as we work towards achieving the SDGs globally,” said Stefanos Fotiou, Director of FAO’s Office of Sustainable Development Goals. “Leveraging the network of innovators from SEED and nurturing local agrifood solutions through a tailored innovation support package opens new ways for FAO to have an on-the-ground impact.”

SEED Executive Director Arab Hoballah said: “The calibre of the twelve selected SDG Agrifood Innovators is inspiring, leading by example for replication and acceleration of change. We are excited to further their SDG contributions with FAO through our joint Programme. We strongly encourage policymakers and financers to take a closer look at these innovative SMEs as they have the potential to become key partners in transforming global food systems in the transition to circularity and sustainability.”

Creative solutions

The SDG Agrifood Accelerator Programme acknowledges that all 17 SDGs are interconnected and addresses challenges across a broad range of goals, from no poverty and zero hunger to good health, gender equality and climate action.

Operating across eight countries in Africa and Asia, the 12 SMEs who joined the Programme have been pioneering solutions designed to transform agrifood systems while improving the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in their communities.

One example is the Amaati Group, which empowers rural Ghanaian women by farming indigenous Fonio grains. Fonio has low water requirements and can withstand adverse weather conditions. This social enterprise works with over 2,000 farmers and dries, de-husks, packages, stores, and markets Fonio cereal products for household consumption.

Another can be found in Botswana, where Kalahari Honey trains and supplies farmers with beehives that act as ‘active’ fences to prevent elephants from destroying their farms. The farmers sell the bee products back to Kalahari, which then markets them globally.

In Thailand, Listenfield applies scientific principles and climate data in order to provide precision farming solutions that cut field operation costs and provide a detailed outlook for yield prediction.

The results of the FAO-SEED Agrifood Accelerator Programme will be shared during the Global UN Food Systems Stocktaking Moment, which will take place in Rome, Italy from 24 – 26 July 2023, at the premises of FAO.

SEED was founded at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a global partnership for action on sustainable development and the green economy.