Study: Foreign Direct Investment in Agri-Food Networks in India and Sub-Saharan Africa
09/11/2015

Teaching ‘EcoFair’ has evolved from the worldwide ‘Slow Trade – Sound Farming’ debate which started in 2005 with a discussion of fundamental reform of the international agricultural trade regime. Today, it is widely acknowledged that sustainable development is not possible unless trade policy is treated in conjunction with social issues concerning the livelihoods and rights of human beings and the protection of the environment.

We therefore wish to raise the awareness of lecturers, researchers and students about the link between agricultural trade and investment policy on the one hand and the right to food on the other Since over 70 % of the world’s poor and undernourished people still live in rural areas and earn their livelihoods from agriculture, it is of key importance to focus on the coherence of agricultural trade and investment policies, and inclusive development, right-to-food and poverty-eradication strategies.

The aim of this baseline study is to provide detailed background information on current developments in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) by EU countries in the agricultural sectors of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and India. Teaching of and research on agricultural trade and investment policy often lack the local perspective of vulnerable groups in the South as it is largely based on theoretical considerations. For this reason, the research presented here includes detailed case studies from SSA and India. We are convinced that it is important to address tertiary-level teaching and research; after all, institutions at this level are educating the decision-makers of tomorrow. In so doing, we hope to spark the debate as to whether FDI supports or undermines the right to food.

Analysing crucial data and relevant trends, this study therefore provides a deeper understanding of FDI in the context of agriculture in SSA and India. Students and researchers conducting development studies are encouraged to read it and use the results and findings in their own analysis of ways in which FDIs can or cannot be effectively and efficiently employed to foster sustainable agricultural growth. We also encourage them to consider the possible effects of FDIs on the livelihoods and the overall socio-economic development of the majority of the rural poor engaged in agricultural activities in these two regions. So the results of this study should be a substantial contribution to the ongoing debate on sustainable investment.

At the international level the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems are currently at the focus of widespread discussion. It is therefore important for us to examine whether or not investments in the agricultural sector of developing countries constitute a promising means of eradicating hunger and supporting the situation of smallholder farmers.

Msgr Pirmin Spiegel Director General, Misereor Vladislav Vik Humanitarian Aid and Development Cooperation Department, Caritas Czech Republic Samuel Darkwah, Ph D Head of Department of Territorial Studies International Relations Officer, Mendel University in Brno, Czech Republic

Photo: Traditional market in Tanzania, Source: Misereor