LONDON, ENGLAND — The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) mobilized €5.3 million ($5.76 million) for technical assistance in the agribusiness sector in 21 countries in 2014, according to its Annual Report released on March 9.

The EBRD said its Private Sector for Food Security Initiative supports the agribusiness sector, championing the role of private companies in boosting food production, improving food quality and setting incentives to create the right policy environment for sector-wide growth. The Initiative fosters private sector involvement in food security with the view that food production is first and foremost a private sector activity.

The Initiative aims to unlock the region’s vast potential in food production focusing not only on producing more food, but also better food. The Initiative complemented the Bank’s agribusiness investments, which were kept high at €860 million in over 56 projects.

Launched in 2011, the Private Sector for Food Security Initiative initially focused on enhancing productivity and providing more access to finance for primary agriculture. In recent years, improving food quality and safety standards has emerged as a pressing issue for producers in the region, as well as assisting companies to invest in new technologies, storage and logistics, to increase efficiency and reduce losses.

The 2014 Annual Report highlights achievements in keeping with the Initiative’s main priorities:

• Upgrading food quality standards and animal welfare practices: Building on their success in Croatia, the EBRD and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are working in Montenegro and Serbia to develop food quality labels for traditional food products in competitive markets.
• Improving policy transparency through public-private platforms: Together with the FAO, the EBRD facilitates public-private platforms to improve policy transparency and predictability, thus increasing investor confidence in the agribusiness sector.
• Linking exporters and importers to enhance global supply chains: The Initiative focuses on linking exporters from the transition region with importers from the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region and new markets.
• Responding to price volatility through improved access to finance: Access to credit is a constant challenge. The EBRD is helping countries to implement pre- and post-harvest credit solutions.
• Advice for Agribusiness: The EBRD expanded its advisory support for local agribusiness companies to 15 countries in 2014. Experienced industry advisers helped companies improve their efficiency and grow to become catalysts of their economy.

The entire Annual Report is available here.