Enhancing food security

South-South and Triangular Cooperation projects help advance inclusive agri-systems


Countries in the Global South have offered countless development solutions in the forms of knowledge, good practices, innovative policies, technologies and resources.

But the question is, how do we facilitate the effective transfer and upscaling of these new practices from one country to another?

This is where South-South and Triangular Cooperation, or SSTC, comes in. It has an important role to play in upscaling best practices and new technologies. By promoting and facilitating the sharing of effective approaches, it is establishing more sustainable and inclusive agrifood systems.

SSTC projects and programs support member states in raising the profile of food security and nutrition on national and regional agendas, by facilitating policy dialogue, peer-to-peer learning, knowledge and technology transfer, and upscaling and replicating best practices.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has been spearheading cooperation among countries of the Global South for more than 40 years, working through its extensive country-level presence.

SSTC is at the heart of the FAO’s operations.

By virtue of SSTC, women-owned businesses thrive. As a typical example, Loyda Twinomujuni, a female farmer in Uganda, was supported by the FAO-China South-South Cooperation Programme. It helped Twinomujuni increase milk production, run a farm where she rears cattle and pigs, and improve her livelihood.

Since 2020, the FAO has also joined forces with the Republic of Korea and is implementing an SSTC project to enhance rice value chains in Cote d’Ivoire, the United Republic of Tanzania and the Philippines.

South-South and South-North sharing of knowledge, ideas and strategies for addressing development issues remains a valuable reservoir for potential change and an incentive to sustainable development.

We are also witnessing a strong willingness of beneficiary countries to financially engage in SSTC, which is testimony to the concrete results achieved by agricultural SSTC to date at the field level, and that SSTC is becoming the most effective delivery mechanism for transformation of the agrifood systems.

Constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the need for flexible and diverse knowledge exchange modalities. Nonetheless, rapid adoption of virtual training methods has enabled most of the planned SSTC workshops and projects to go ahead.

The agrifood sector remains a key source of food, income and employment, and transformation of agrifood systems is critical to ensure food and livelihood security and sustainable recovery in the Global South.

For this reason, the FAO recognizes the importance of engaging with the private sector and other non-state actors to promote the spread and uptake of new technologies and innovations in the Global South and to strengthen market-related measures, including policies, to support these efforts.

A good example can be found in the collaboration between the FAO and the Ningxia Yanbao Charity Foundation to foster the development of agriculture talents.

Countries in the Global South are still facing a range of challenges in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG1, no poverty, and SDG2, zero hunger. However, these countries are also reservoirs of homegrown development solutions in the areas of agriculture and food security, which could be replicated further and scaled up through SSTC.

A good example of how SSTC is bringing tangible changes and results, and advancing the realization of the SDGs and improving agrifood systems, can be found in a new report by the FAO on the FAO-China SSC Project in Mongolia, the first national project implemented in Asia under the FAO-China SSC Programme.

The support rendered through the SSC Project in Mongolia between 2010 and 2016 had an enduring impact on local people’s lives and livelihoods. The numerous benefits gained by the project stakeholders represent the building blocks of stronger agrifood systems in the country, and of a more sustainable future — leaving no one behind.

I strongly believe we are experiencing renewed SSTC momentum. On Sept 12-14 in Bangkok, the FAO and other agencies and international development partners participated in a major Global South-South Development Expo with the theme “Toward a smart and resilient future”.

We must seize the moment and join forces with other development partners to further mainstream SSTC for the greater good of humanity and to build sustainable, inclusive and healthy agrifood systems.

The author is director of the South-South and Triangular Cooperation Division at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. 

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.