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by Daniela Cuneo and Michelle Tang

More investments in agriculture are needed to feed a growing population. Governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector are often mentioned as key players, but they are not the only ones. What about the diaspora? Have you ever thought of the tremendous potential of diaspora investments in agriculture? Almost 215 million people live outside their countries, but despite the distance, they have an impact on development back home. Through their hard work and individual sacrifices, the migrants of the world save money and send it to their families living in the countries they had to leave. And the amount of money that they remit to their countries is impressive!

 IFAD estimated that migrant workers would be able to send home well over US$350 billion in 2011, according to The FFR Brief: Five Years of the Financing Facility for Remittances. It’s a huge amount that could make a difference if invested in agriculture. But how can diaspora investments be mobilized in agricultural activities of these migrants’ communities of origin? Why should migrants be interested in investing in agriculture? Since investments must be profitable, how can migrants be convinced that investing in agriculture is remunerative?

These were the challenging questions debated during one of yesterday’s regional events at the 35th session of IFAD’s Governing Council. Chaired by Pedro De Vasconcelos, the event was organized by the Financing Facility for Remittances (FFR) in IFAD’s Policy and Technical Advisory Division. In addition to Mr. De Vasconcelos, FFR’s Programme Coordinator, the remarkable panellists at the event included H.E. Ambassador Ibrahim Hagi Abdulkadir, Permanent Representative of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia to FAO and IFAD; H.E. Ambassador Virgilio A. Reyes, Jr., Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Philippines to FAO, WFP and IFAD; Estrella Mai Dizon-Anonuevo, Executive Director of the Atikha Overseas Workers and Communities Initiatives Inc.; Fatumo Farah, Director of the Himilo Relief and Development Association; and Tawfiq El-Zabri and Rose Thompson-Coon, both of IFAD.

The experience shared by Ms. Dizon-Anonuevo shows that diaspora communities can be engaged in investing in agriculture. As she pointed out, financial education is of utmost importance, because migrants are not always aware of their saving capacity. Once they are aware of their potential to make investments, they can and do invest in agriculture.

FFR’s experience has shown that investing in agriculture can generate both economic and social returns for people in the diaspora. IFAD, thanks to its expertise, can contribute to identifying profitable and sustainable initiatives for them to support.
Read more Financing facility for remittances  The FFR Brief Five years of the Financing Facility for Remittances