THE agrifood sector was identified as a priority area for global investment, though investment prospects currently offer limited visibility going forward, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said.
In a report, UNCTAD said high debt levels and a volatile investment climate are key obstacles to attracting global investment.
Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) President George T. Barcelon said global economies are facing supply chain disruptions caused by geopolitical uncertainties.
“Even among ASEAN countries, we rely heavily on imported fertilizer … geopolitical tensions will impact the supply of this key ingredient,” he said.
UNCTAD estimated the global investment gap in developing countries at $4 trillion a year.
Mr. Barcelon said ministers at UNCTAD’s 8th World Investment Forum are also now seeing the implication of climate change.
“Some countries used to have predictable harvests of rice and wheat … but now we are seeing droughts,” he said.
Michael L. Ricafort, chief economist of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., said that prioritizing agrifood is crucial for food security, citing the particular need to invest in improving productivity.
He noted the availability of technology to raise the level of mechanization, as well as the presence of higher-yielding varieties of crop, and cited the potential of improved irrigation and infrastructure.
“(These will) further bring down costs and prices of food and other agricultural products,” he said.
He added that assigning priority to the sector is a “more effective and a more structural approach in improving the supply chains of food and other agricultural products in a more sustained manner over the long term.”
“It would also force competitors to adopt the best available technologies (funded by) foreign direct investment,” he added.
UNCTAD said that the ministers attending the forum reached a consensus on the need for a business-friendly environment, attracting environmentally responsible investment, and establishing strategic public-private partnerships.
“They deemed investment in transformative and sustainable technologies to be crucial for a paradigm shift in global food security and environmental sustainability,” UNCTAD said.
“This involves accelerating the transition to renewable energy, harnessing green technologies and promoting supportive business environments,” it added. — Justine Irish D. Tabile