ASTA: Agrifood Systems Transformation Accelerator


The Accelerator for Agriculture and Agroindustry Development and Innovation Plus (3ADI+) has been rebranded to the Agrifood Systems Transformation Accelerator (ASTA).

Sustainable food systems can help break the intergenerational cycle of poverty and malnutrition, address inequity and inequality, alleviate environmental and climate change impacts, and trigger solutions to resist and recover from shocks and stresses. Yet, too many of the world’s food systems are fragile, unexamined and susceptible to breakdown, as millions of people around the world have experienced during the recent pandemic. Transforming food systems to make them more inclusive, sustainable and resilient is key to making progress towards all 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As modern food systems are deeply interconnected, it is vital to identify and address the systemic barriers to linking producers to processing, value addition and end markets. Using a value chain approach allows to measure, analyze and improve the performance of the food value chains that make up food systems.

ASTA is a global program led by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It assists countries with accelerating investment in food system transformation to achieve the SDGs, including through development of value chains, market systems, business models and inclusive finance.

What is ASTA?

ASTA Pineapple Value Chain in Suriname

Video Preview
Video Preview
Building a new vision for the pineapple value chain in Suriname

By mobilizing SDG-aligned investments and de-risking them through a variety of financial instruments and technical assistance, ASTA generates substantial economic, social, environmental and resilience impact.

• Economic: ASTA effectively links small and medium agricultural producers and processors to end markets through value addition, thereby acting as an effective basis for industrialization;

• Social: ASTA increases smallholder inclusion in the value chain and focuses on female and youth participation, by promoting decent rural employment strategies and through policy dialogue to support rural women and youth’s empowerment;

• Environmental: ASTA brings together stakeholders responsible for greening value chains, giving special attention to how public policies and business strategies can better support sustainable use of natural resources and climate resilient food systems;

• Resilience: ASTA strengthens adaptive capacities of food systems, increases linkages to input and output markets, in order to absorb and recover from shocks more easily.

The value propositions of ASTA

ASTA brings the combined technical expertise, resources and investment promotion capacities of national, inter-governmental, development and finance partners by creating global, regional and country-level partnerships.

ASTA is a nexus for expertise, which benefits from joint planning and implementation by FAO and UNIDO at the global level. It also bears the potential to be linked to support from the International Trade Centre (ITC), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). At the regional level, ASTA works with development banks and agencies, while at the country level, ASTA is implemented primarily in partnership with relevant ministries and private sector entities, and works to create and facilitate linkages between value chain actors and with service providers.

ASTA consults stakeholders, foremost in the private sector, to identify challenges in the business environment. Based on a comprehensive value chain and market systems analysis, ASTA devises recommendations and provides guidance to the public sector on industry-led policy design. ASTA advocates for policy alignment and incremental policy changes that enable inclusive and sustainable value chain and market systems development.

The programme supports governments and the private sector in investing responsibly in agriculture and agroindustry through the provision of technical assistance to reduce investment risk. It ensures that investments made across value chain segments are compliant with the SDGs and key principles for responsible investment. It unlocks largescale funding from international financial institutions such as IFAD, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Bank and others to further de-risk public and private sector investments.

ASTA strengthens local capacities and institutionalizes knowledge on value chain and market system development by partnering with government and local institutions – including research institutes, consulting firms, universities – to jointly conduct field research and value chain analysis, as well as develop and implement an action plan.

The programme links local partners to a global knowledge platform to ensure the continuous exchange of information, tools and best practices on sustainable food value chain and business model development. In addition, ASTA strengthens capacities by providing technical assistance to value chain actors including producers and processors as well as input and service providers.

The ASTA process

ASTA is a four to five-year programme with a proven approach for value chain development, based on experiences in pilot countries – Bangladesh, Suriname and Tanzania – and previous value chain work by the UNIDO and FAO. The ASTA eligibility criteria include:

  • The value chain development request must be submitted by high-level governmental officials
  • There must be an ability to conduct a broad and integrated value chain diagnostic
  • There must be an availability of public and private investments opportunities
  • UNIDO and other agencies must be able perform technical assistance activities

The ASTA support programme involves the following steps:

  • 3ADI+_1

  • 3ADI+_2

  • 3ADI+_3

  • 3ADI+_4

  • 3ADI+_5

  • 3ADI+_6


    The ASTA kicks off upon receiving a request from the Government and meeting the above eligibility criteria. The ASTA team, including country representatives from the FAO, UNIDO and other agencies, then engages in a dialogue on cooperation prospects and on the selection of promising value chain development opportunities. The inception phase seeks Government endorsement of the ASTA programme and selected value chain.


    The ASTA brings together a team of experts from the Government, local agencies as well as UNIDO and the FAO. The team conducts a value chain and market systems analysis by collecting qualitative and quantitative data and using a combined set of value chain analytical tools. The diagnostics helps identify value chain development opportunities, potential business models along the value chain and required policy actions.


    The ASTA team develops, in close collaboration with the stakeholders, an action plan for value chain development. This includes actions for specific actors, investment needs, development targets, technical assistance functions and incremental policy changes.


    The ASTA team discusses investment options with investors based on business models developed through the diagnostics. Engaging with local investment promotion agencies, the team develops investment profiles and market investment opportunities to help promote matchmaking between private investors and development finance institutions.


    The ASTA team supports the implementation of activities identified in the action plan – including of business and investment plans of public and private investors – to develop inclusive and sustainable value chains. This includes the provision of technical assistance.


    The ASTA team monitors progress on the implementation of the action plan and changes in the framework conditions (e.g. market and policies) and continuously defines additional actions and adjustments to be made to policies and investment plans.


Pilot counties

  • Bangladesh_flag_2
  • Suriname_flag
  • Tanzania_flag

    ASTA is developing the dairy and beef sector, to:

    • - improve nutrition and food safety
    • - increase incomes and market access for businesses in the sector at a very large scale
    • - reduce the environmental impact of milk and beef production and processing

    Additional employment opportunities through value addition will create a more dynamic, modernized and formalized sector with benefits for the poor rural population that relies on dairy for their livelihoods. Negative environmental and health impacts from improper handling of cow manure, wastewater, slaughterhouse waste, and adulterated products, as well as energy-inefficient processes are being reduced through improved coordination and the introduction of clean production technologies.


    ASTA is developing the pineapple sector, to:

    • - increase incomes through decent work on the farms and in the collection and processing centres
    • - sustain economic growth through diversification of exports, improved market access and value addition
    • - safeguard the environment by promoting environmentally sound production and processing

    The pineapple sector has great potential for upscaling to commercial production and processing. ASTA is linking producers and processors to niche markets – such as organic and Fairtrade pineapples – improving product quality, increasing productivity through sustainable intensification, and promoting an enabling environment to support the agro-industrial sector, particularly small and medium enterprises.


    ASTA is developing the palm oil sector, to:

    • - reduce poverty through increased incomes for 30,000 smallholder palm oil producers and rural families
    • - promote gender equality by reducing women’s work burden and valuing women’s work
    • - develop a new system of sustainable palm oil production and reduce pressure on forests and water

    ASTA is developing, on a large scale, an environmentally sound agroforestry production system which is inclusive of many of the smallholder palm oil producers in the Kigoma region. It is also developing agro-processing and value addition businesses that are profitable and food safety-compliant, and introducing improved, energy-efficient technology for processing to reduce women’s work burden and increase the supply of safe, local edible oils.

Contribution to the SDGs

3adi+ sdgs

ASTA will contribute to and monitor its impact on the SDGs. The programme will focus on SDG 1 on poverty reduction, SDG 2 for zero hunger, SDG 8 on decent work and economic growth, SDG 9 on industrial development, SDG 12 on responsible consumption and production and SDG 17 on partnerships for the goals by delivering as one. ASTA will also contribute to SDG 5 on gender equality, SDG 13 on climate action and SDG 15 on sustainable forest management.

The aspirations of the programme are fully recognized in the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA3). Its approach is also well aligned with UNIDO’s innovative model for accelerating inclusive and sustainable industrial development in Member States, the Programme for Country Partnership (PCP).

IDDA3_logo_3adi pcp_logo_3adi

Related documents