The event, which followed Chatham House rules, provided an open space to discuss actions that donors can take to support small-scale rural producers in the multi-layered crisis resulting from the Ukraine war.
The conversation began with an overview of the current situation to contextualize the discussion. Evidence was presented showing how international prices for the 3F’s – food, fuel, and fertilizer – are increasing at alarming rates in the wake of the war in Ukraine. As Russia and Ukraine are among the top exporters of wheat, maize, and sunflower oil, countries that rely heavily on these imports are increasingly vulnerable, as food availability declines while prices of food, fuel and key agricultural inputs reach record highs. In addition, Russia is the world’s largest exporter of nitrogen-based fertilizer and the second largest exporter of potassium and phosphorus-based fertilizers. Soaring prices of agricultural products are putting small-scale producers at risk for the upcoming harvest season, with the potential to have detrimental impacts on food security and livelihoods. Discussants emphasized the need to reduce export restrictions and avoid the weaponization of food during conflict.
The current crises have been exacerbated by and led to an increase in 3F prices. A fourth ‘F’ was also proposed as needing consideration during the discussion – finance. Unfortunately, the proliferation of initiatives to tackle these challenges has led to a fragmentation of initiatives and a series of uncoordinated efforts. Donors therefore need to better coordinate their initiatives in order to improve access, use, and availability of food, fuel, fertilizer, and finance.
Overall, participants underlined that coordination and synchronization of initiatives are essential to avoid overlaps or contradictions between activities, investments and interventions. Investments and interventions must be tailored, targeted, and context-specific. Solutions should seek to meet emergency needs, while retaining a focus on medium- to long-term goals; they should scale up existing pathways, and boost resource efficiency. Data will be crucial in promoting evidence-based policy solutions and decision-making for the future. Discussants also pointed out possible innovative solutions to move forward.
Participants agreed that the donor roundtable was just the beginning of this discussion on the actions and responses needed to support small-scale rural producers.