H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands is scheduled to deliver virtual remarks for the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) special seminar on food and nutrition on 25 November 2020. She will speak in her capacity as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA).
The seminar is being held under the title “Urgent call for agri-food systems transformation to achieve healthy diets for all”. The event will cover access to healthy diets, food loss and waste, innovations in food and agriculture, and food systems for economic recovery.
The UNSGSA’s remarks will occur during the opening session devoted to the topic of healthy diets. Financial services are critical to support sustainable agricultural production, while financial inclusion for low-income households helps enable food security and healthier diets.
As Special Advocate, Queen Máxima has focused on agricultural finance and smallholder farmers—the latter being one of the underserved groups she prioritizes in her advocacy efforts.
Agriculture is the main source of income for rural dwellers in developing countries. Farmers worldwide help supply an increasing variety of food products to the global population. Additionally, the COVID-19 crisis has created extra challenges for smallholder farmers, including a disruption in food production and supply chains which has negatively affected their economic livelihoods.
To help address how to best close the finance gap for smallholders, the UNSGSA has convened a working group, co-led by CGAP and IDH (The Sustainable Trade Initiative’s Farmfit Fund). Further, in July, the UNSGSA co-published a report called Sowing the Seeds of Innovation for Smallholder Finance to provide recommendations for the private and public sectors to close the agricultural finance gap, as well as offer lessons to spur new investments in agriculture and increase financial inclusion.
Also, during a speech at the 2020 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos last January, the UNSGSA highlighted that innovations, such as irrigation advances, new types of seeds and fertilizer, and digital technology that delivers up-to-the-minute information on growing conditions, can help address some smallholders’ challenges.