CASA 4×4: The role of policy & coordination in driving up agricultural investment, driven by Grahame Dixie of Grow Asia
Grahame Dixie from Grow Asia was in the driving seat again for the CASA 4×4. This time he turned his attention to the role of government and coordination in driving up investment.
The new 4×4 was streamed on the CASA website on 28 July at 12 (Noon) BST. The full boxset and the four individual viewpoints will be available on our YouTube channel.
For a pdf summary of this webinar, click here.
What is 4×4?
We crowdsourced questions from the CASA/investor community. Grahame had just four-minutes to provide his viewpoint based on your questions. The questions were:
- What role do you think governments can play in ensuring that investment in agriculture is impactful and profitable?
- What are the policies and practices that would indicate that a government is treating agricultural investors well?
- Why is Grow Asia so successful?
- What skills are required to facilitate investment?
After the 28 July livestream our 1-pager document will be available in the Summary section of the website.
Grahame was a panellist in CASA Webinar 5: Making Inclusivity Work: A role for legal empowerment. In his first 4×4, Grahame explored the opportunities for investment in inclusive agriculture and the mistakes made by new investors.
This is a summary of 4×4 Boxset 2: The role of policy and coordination in driving up agricultural investment by Grahame Dixie of Grow Asia.
1. What role do you think governments can play in ensuring that investment in agriculture is impactful and profitable?
Governments often go to great lengths to attract foreign direct investment. But all attempts at being responsible investors end if the investment starts to lose money. It is experienced investors who make money from smallholder agriculture. They see the investment as long-term and have deep pockets to finance this vision. The best way to attract these investors is for governments to treat existing investors well.
There are strong indicators of success, such as the cropping system that worked somewhere similar and produced profitable yields, or, they are using repeating a business models that worked somewhere else.
There are lots of guidelines and principles developed to support and/or challenge investors. Often there are too many different versions of these, and governments would do well to consolidate this information, without being too rigid. The businesses need some flexibility. The guidance boils down to practical issues, such as needing to consult and have a grievance mechanism in place. Governments also often insist on a percentage of raw materials sourced from out growers. So, there also needs to be a mechanism for reporting on the impact of these approaches.
2. What are the policies and practices that would indicate that a government is treating agricultural investors well?
Investors do not want the goal posts to keep moving. Investors also want government to be clear on the rule of law and consistent tax regimes and rules of engagement, but not too bureaucratic. Difficulties emerge in countries when local investors are treated less favourably than foreign investors. Indonesia pushed the idea of treating existing investors better and this translated into significant inward investment from overseas. The Kenya Horticultural Crops Development Authority developed smart regulation that drove investment and innovation, whilst allowing some profits to be taken offshore.
3. Why is Grow Asia so successful?
Grow Asia facilitates partnership working across 6 countries and cross-pollinates learning between the countries. They encourage active dialogues and learning.
(1) You manage what you measure: Their 580 partners work mainly in value-chain groupings. A strong motivation for joining Grow Asia is to build a network of organisations who members want to work with. In some Grow Asia working groups, champions emerged, but many don’t know how to proceed. Grow Asia found the characteristics of the successful working groups and modelled them through the network.
(2) What you focus on you get more of: Grow Asia pushes for impact at scale. The members are keen to make a difference and collaborate to make smarter decisions. Grow Asia uses data it collects to influence policy dialogues, such as creating investment guidelines and fall armyworm responses for ASEAN.
4. What skills are required to facilitate investment?
Sustainable Development Goal 17 points to the need to bring disparate parties to facilitate change in agriculture at the scale and speed required. Donors often want to invest in project strands (e.g. gender) and not the glue that holds it all together.
In successful organizations or working groups you have two clear roles. Charismatic leaders with convening power and clockwork people who do the logistics and write the minutes. It is a disadvantage to have one leader, as this makes for poor succession, when people inevitably move on.
External consultants can be usefully deployed to draw out the synergies between different factional interests into a unified business case. They find smart, efficient ways to work together, such as ensuring that sub-groups of the partnership work together effectively on solutions – rather than having large consortia in one meeting, wasting time. 60% of the factors that impact on success are linked to the quality of the management. Bringing different sectors together takes a special person – but Grow Asia are learning how to do it better.
Grahame Dixie is the Executive Director of Grow Asia, a multi-stakeholder partnership platform that catalyzes action on inclusive agricultural development in South East Asia. The platform convenes governments, farmers, NGOs and other stakeholders to co-create value chain initiatives focused on smallholder farmers and environmental sustainability of agriculture. Grow Asia was established by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the ASEAN Secretariat.
Grahame joined Grow Asia in December 2016 and helms the unique regional partnership, which is generating impact through national-level initiatives in five countries.
Grahame brings over 35 years of professional experience as a practitioner of agricultural development in over 75 countries, including an early career in the private sector. For over a decade, he served as the World Bank’s lead agribusiness advisor where he was involved in the design and review of the World Bank’s portfolio of projects linking smaller scale farmers to markets and agribusinesses. These programs leveraged public and private investment and involved innovative financing and research on key issues. His work included advising World Bank teams globally on project design, emerging good practices and key trends in the food and farming sector, with a focus on market-orientated farming and multi-stakeholder partnerships. More recently, Grahame has served as an advisor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
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