Food Security During – And After – COVID-19: A Short and Long-Term Strategy for Funding Agribusiness
Over the past 18 months, Grassroots Capital Management PBC – an asset manager of impact investment vehicles – had been preparing to launch a fund and affiliated technical assistance facility that would improve access to capital and technology for smallholder farmers in Central America and the Caribbean. Our goal was to enhance these farmers’ food security, and build their resilience to climate change in a region vulnerable to both climate and food supply disruptions.
And then COVID-19 happened.
The landscape changed overnight. Smallholder farmers were now approaching planting season with customers locked down, supply chains disrupted, funding gone, and the future ever more uncertain. So as the pervasive and far-reaching effects of the pandemic took hold, we shifted gears. Though the original goals of our fund remain, it was clear that we also needed to provide immediate support to these farmers and the businesses that serve them. To reduce the likelihood that the depredations of the health and economic crises are further exacerbated by food insecurity, we know these farmers need inputs to plant and ways to get food to customers. So we’re combining Grassroots’ own resources with commitments from long-standing partners to extend short-term, low-cost credit to agribusinesses providing essential products and services. Our goals are now to help mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic on the food security of vulnerable communities, while supporting these companies’ continued climate change resilience and gender equity efforts.