March 22, 2023

Tag: Environment


New report touts agrocorridors as economic driver

Photo: ©FAO/J. M. Micaud

Farmers dry rice on the road to Hon Don in Vietnam.

11 March, 2015, Rome – Economic “agrocorridors” can be a strategic tool to draw private capital and large-scale investment to projects that benefit smallholder farmers and boost food security in lower-income countries, according to a new FAO report that provides guidance on how development planners can avoid pitfalls.

These corridors, according to the report, are development programmes that foster promising economic sectors – notably agriculture in developing countries – in a territory connected by lines of transportation like highwaysrailroads, port or canals.

The strength of this approach is its integration of investments, policy frameworks and local institutions.

“The key idea is not just to make transportation or irrigation infrastructure improvements but to provide a platform that enables and empowers authorities at local, national and regional levels to make more informed decisions about what they want to achieve,” says FAO agribusiness economist Eva Gálvez Nogales, author of “Making economic corridors work for the agricultural sector.”

The 200-page tome reviews in detail six case studies, including three well-advanced corridor programmes in Central Asia, the Greater Mekong Subregion in Southeast Asia and Peru; and three new projects still largely in the early implementation phase, in Indonesia, Mozambique and Tanzania.

So-called economic corridors are hardly new – an archetype is the Silk Road – but their potential as engines of broad-based sustainable development has been largely untapped.

Traditionally, they have been used to bolster physical connectivity to improve the functioning of markets, or with a narrow focus, such as linking mines to ports. But corridors can be harnessed to smarter planning initiatives, aimed at enhancing agricultural opportunities, achieving explicit targets such as creating rural jobs, environmental goals and catalyzing improved governance along value chains, all of which the report notes are needed “to spur inclusive and sustainable growth in the developing world.

They also offer an important opportunity to engage the private sector’s capital and trading skills to foster adequate investment in agriculture and respond to the challenge of hunger,” says Gálvez Nogales.

Artichokes and bridges

Effective corridors need to be geared to the competitive advantages of a territory rather than conceived as a miracle method to make a desert bloom.

They “should be developed in areas where there is already economic density and untapped growth potential that can be maximized,” she says.

One of the corridor projects that catalyzed new thinking by development experts was the Poverty Reduction and Alleviation Project in Peru, which began in 1998 and focused on the role of intermediate cities rather than rural areas in alleviating poverty. It also adopted a novel pro-business approach relying on “star connector firms” able to quickly expand commercial networks along 13 corridors in the Peruvian jungle and highlands.

This led to the flowering of overlooked market opportunities. For example, Peru is now the world’s third-largest exporter of artichokes, which are produced through outgrower contracts and processed in several corridors.

 Gálvez Nogales emphasizes that corridor schemes can have even stronger impacts when they cross national borders, especially if developed under the auspices of regional trade agreements.  That deepens potential market opportunities, making it possible to forge multi-stakeholder alliances and keep private-sector players engaged in the development process.

One such corridor is known as the Greater Mekong Subregion corridor programme, spanning Cambodia, Viet Nam, Thailand, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar and some Chinese provinces. One can already see improved bridges and customs procedures at border towns and even contract farming that spans national frontiers.

The three C’s: connectivity, competitiveness and the sense of community

Gálvez Nogales defines the “three Cs” of a successful corridor as: connectivity, competitiveness and the sense of community.
Multiple stakeholders – businesses and farmers, but also different levels of regional government – must from the outset be brought together in the identification of “soft” targets and harmonized environmental, social and food security safeguards  in order to avoid disputes that emerge in the wake of “hard” infrastructure investments.

Decisive clarification of land tenure issues – ideally with the help of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land is essential, not least as biofuel projects, which can alter land use patterns, often feature in corridor plans.

While specific policies vary broadly between corridors, the adoption of inclusive business models is a shared imperative. It is also useful that policies be “designed for scaling up to a transformative level,” which can best be done by mobilizing the right “change agent,” which could depending on the context be a company or a farmer association or government extension agents, or also in the food processing and trade areas.

Governance is key

Properly-designed corridors are also a tool favoring natural resource governance.

“Corridors can in fact allow for better management of environment risks and practices such as unsuitable monocropping,” said Eugenia Serova, director of FAO’s Rural Infrastructure and Agro-Industries Division and also coordinator for FAO’s SO4, the strategic objective linked to enabling inclusive and efficient agricultural and food systems.
 “The key is for inclusive coordination of stakeholder interests both in the planning and execution phase,” Serova said.

While high-profile transportation infrastructure consumes the bulk of monetary resources, relatively intangible public goods and services such as standard contracts, legal advice, extension services, land banks and innovative financing mechanisms are just as important. Coordinated public-private partnerships which link local and central governments can improve the efficiency of local bureaucracies, turning the corridor into the catalyst of better governance of the needed investments.


An agro-based cluster is the geographic concentration of interconnected producers, agribusinesses and institutions that are engaged in the same agricultural or agro-industrial subsector, and interconnect and build value networks when addressing common challenges and pursuing common opportunities.
An agro-industrial park is a centrally-managed platform that offers high-quality infrastructure, logistics and specialized facilities and services to a community of tenants, formed by agro-industries, related agribusiness firms, service providers and knowledge institutions.
An agro-based special economic zone is a demarcated geographic area where firms engaged in agribusiness and agro-industrial activities benefit from a more favourable regulatory, business and fiscal environment than those in the rest of the country.
An agribusiness incubator is an entrepreneurial development model that provides a common environment (either physical or virtual) to nascent agro-based companies, where they have access to shared infrastructure, and networking, coaching, business and financial services.
An agricultural value chain is defined as the full range of farms and firms and their successive coordinated value-adding activities that produce particular raw agricultural materials and transform them into particular agricultural and food products that are sold to consumers and disposed of after use.

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edu, Miscellaneous

East Asia and the Pacific: Extraordinary Meeting of the Friends of the Lower Mekong

On February 2, Counselor Tom Shannon and Senior Advisor to the Secretary Ambassador David Thorne led a U.S. delegation to the Extraordinary Meeting of the Friends of the Lower Mekong in Pakse, Laos. The Friends of the Lower Mekong, a donor coordination group, came together with the countries of the Lower Mekong to discuss the connection between water resources, energy needs and food security. Accompanying Counselor Shannon and Ambassador Thorne were representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy.

The health of the Mekong River is essential to the economic growth and sustainable development of the region. In Cambodia, the Mekong supports the rich biodiversity of a watershed that provides more than 60% of the protein intake for the entire country. The river irrigates the “rice bowl” in Vietnam, where more than half of the nation’s rice production is concentrated in the provinces that make up the Mekong delta. In Laos, Thailand, and Burma, the Mekong is an important artery for transportation, a water source for aquaculture and agriculture, and a generator of electricity.

Meeting participants discussed the challenges of ensuring a future in which economic growth does not come at the expense of clean air, clean water and healthy ecosystems. The meeting brought together senior officials from Laos, Burma, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam alongside representatives from the United States, the Mekong River Commission, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the European Union, and the governments of Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

At the meeting, the U.S. delegation announced several new initiatives, including the launch of USAID’s Sustainable Mekong Energy Initiative (SMEI). Through the SMEI, the United Stateswill promote the use of alternative energy and low-emission technologies. The delegation also announced that the Department of State will organize and send a Sustainable Energy Business Delegation to the region later this year.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will provide technical assistance on hydropower management. In conjunction, Counselor Shannon and Ambassador Thorne announced that the State Department will contribute $500,000 in support of a Mekong River study on the impacts of hydropower on the community and environment.

The Friends of the Lower Mekong will also work together to strengthen the capacity of Lower Mekong countries to more effectively implement social and environmental safeguards such as environmental impact assessments and strategic environmental analyses. The U.S. government, Asian Development Bank, World Bank, Japanese International Cooperation Agency and the Government of Australia plan to jointly develop a Regional Impact Assessment Training Center at the Asian Institute of Technology Center in Vietnam.

Under the auspices of the Lower Mekong Initiative the United States is continuing successful projects like Smart Infrastructure for the Mekong (SIM) to provide technical assistance to the region on land and water use management, renewable energy, and infrastructure development. $1.5 million will be spent on SIM projects in the Mekong region this year.

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FoodSecurityFoodAid, Miscellaneous, RuralDevelopment

Cambodia Inching Ahead In Zero Hunger Challenge; Still Not Enough, Study Shows

WFP | United Nations World Food Programme – Fighting Hunger Worldwide

World Food Programme - Fighting Hunger Worldwide

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UNDP, Foundation Center, and RPA Partner with Leading Foundations to Engage Philanthropic Sector in Post-2015 Global Development Process

20 Nov 2014

“Post-2015 Partnership Platform for Philanthropy” Created to Transform Collaboration and Impact

Nairobi and New York – As the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) come to a close and the global aid community embarks on the post-2015 development agenda, opportunities abound to introduce innovation and insight into the way we address the world’s most pressing issues.

Against this backdrop, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Foundation Center, and a committee of leading foundations guided by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) have launched a new initiative to facilitate stronger philanthropic input into the changing global development landscape.

The project, known as the Post-2015 Partnership Platform for Philanthropy, will enable philanthropy to understand better the opportunities for engaging in global development goal processes, and help governments and the UN system understand the value philanthropy can bring in driving greater impact for people.

“Partnerships will be even more vital in achieving the new sustainable development goals than they were for the MDGs. The Partnership Platform will take us and our government partners a step further in working with others in achieving sustainable development. And it will demonstrate how philanthropic contributions can also address other challenges such as building the capacity of our partners at the country level,” said Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator.

The project aims to help funders have a voice in the post-2015 development agenda, playing a more active role in both planning discussions and the implementation. In doing so, the philanthropic field can serve as a strategic partner in these broader global processes.

Another key objective of the project will be to develop country-level platforms that help inform and identify opportunities for collaboration. Planning workshops in various countries will kick start this process by facilitating the exchange of knowledge and laying the foundation for future engagement in the post-2015 agenda. The first workshop takes place on November 21 in Kenya, with representatives from philanthropic institutions, government, civil society organizations, and other regional and local networks. Additional pilot projects will roll out in Colombia, followed by Ghana, Indonesia, and Cambodia.

“Philanthropy is uniquely positioned to help convene multiple stakeholders and to amplify the voice and action of its civil society grantee partners in shaping and achieving the development targets within each country,” said Steven M. Hilton, chairman, president, and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

This initiative will also deliver a new web portal called that makes data on philanthropic investments more accessible, in order to help funders track progress, find partners, and tell their stories.

“The website will combine Foundation Center’s expertise in the philanthropic sector, data, and technology with the passion and insights of funders dedicated to making a difference,” said Bradford K. Smith, president of Foundation Center. “The post-2015 development landscape looks much brighter when funders and other partners have the knowledge tools they need to be strategic and collaborative.”

The Partnership Platform was launched during the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly, at a side event at Ford Foundation entitled, “Strengthening Philanthropy’s Engagement with the Post-2015 Development Agenda.” Throughout the project, guidance and input will be provided by leaders from foundation and philanthropy support organizations comprising a Collaboration Committee, which currently includes the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Ford Foundation, The MasterCard Foundation, and WINGS.

Follow us on twitter: #phil2015

Contact Information


UNDP, Karolina Mzyk, Project Manager, The Post-2015 Platform for Philanthropy, Tel.: +1 212 906 6853,


Foundation Center, Cheryl Loe, Communications Project Manager, Tel.: + 888-356-0354 ext. 701,

RPA, Heather Grady, Senior Fellow, Global Philanthropy, Tel. +1 415-343-0838,

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