Braving the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) held its 67th Consultative Committee (CC) Meeting from 25 to 28 January 2021 using teleconference facilities for the second time. Seven projects submitted under the 17th Call for Proposals were assessed.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Sheikh Mohammed Belal, Managing Director of the CFC, congratulated the new members of the Committee, selected by the Executive Board. This new Committee composition is exceptional this year as it counts five women and four men, thus reflecting the CFC’s commitment to gender equality. Managing Director also elaborated on massive undertakings initiated by CFC to address this challenging pandemic. He shared how CFC is trying its best to keep it mission of creating impact ongoing at this challenging time. Managing Director informed the CC that despite the ongoing pandemic, the 17th Call for Proposals, closed in October 2020, received a record number of project proposals potentially qualifying for CFC support. Highlighting the “demand” side, Amb. Belal urged all to work for a better and fairer world, where market should work, on the supply side, to drive doing good while making profit. Highlighting CFC’s mission for impact investment, Amb. Belal added that CFC is “ where people have been working to do good and do well at the same time. Our initiative of Commodity Impact Investment Fund (CIIF) is one such challenging but doable project”.
The Committee reviewed seven regular project proposals. After careful analysis of their technical feasibility and practical potential for having a lasting development impact, six projects were recommended for later consideration and approval by the Executive Board. The total value of these projects recommended by the CC is USD 70,3 million; the CC recommended that CFC provides loan financing for these in the amount of up to USD 11,3 million. These projects are based in Kenya, Tanzania (LDC), Madagascar (LDC), Peru, Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Ecuador. These projects cover different kinds of commodities such as fruits, soya, nuts, coffee, forestry, agrifinance.
Overall, these projects combined are expected to benefit 38,500 smallholder farmers, helping them to have better access to markets and increase their productivity levels. Emphasis is placed on CFC “core” SDGs, namely SDG1 (No poverty), SDG2 (Zero hunger), SDG5 (Gender equality), SDG8 (Decent work and economic growth), SDG10 (Reduced inequalities); however, certain projects also aim at contributing to SDG7 (Affordable and clean energy) and SDG13 (Climate action).
On 25 January 2021, Ms. Jie Chen of People’s Republic of China was elected, by consensus, as Chair of the Consultative Committee replacing Mr. Wilson Andrade, of Brazil. Mr Andrade has completed his tenure with due appreciation of all. Ms Chen has been a member of the CC for two years and has successfully demonstrated her expertise in the commodity sector. Ms. Jie Chien is the first ever representative from the People’s Republic of China to be elected as Chair of the CC.
Other matters discussed included operational aspects of the Fund, such as reviewing the current pipeline of projects, the impact management practice of the CFC and the risk assessment of the loan portfolio.
The CC could be seen as a success given its overall portfolio of projects that it took time to consider, debate and eventually approve to recommend to the EC. Innovative projects like carbon neutral avocado processing to verified carbon unit to check emissions are there to make the overall portfolio significantly improved, both in terms of its impact and return.