Stagnant Food Production, Rising Malnourishment Threaten Africa’s Ability to Feed Itself, Delegate Says as Second Committee Considers Agriculture, Food Security
Stagnant Food Production, Rising Malnourishment Threaten Africa’s Ability to Feed Itself, Delegate Says as Second Committee Considers Agriculture, Food Security
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
20th & 21st Meeting (AM & PM)
Stagnant Food Production, Rising Malnourishment Threaten Africa’s Ability to Feed
Itself, Delegate Says as Second Committee Considers Agriculture, Food Security
Given its stagnant food production and rising levels of malnourishment, Africa would not be able to feed itself unless the outside world helped with money and technology to spur agriculture across the continent, Malawi’s representative told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today as it considered agriculture development and food security.
Speaking on behalf of the African Group, he said the continent’s food security situation had deteriorated faster than in other regions over the last 50 years. It received 25 per cent of global food aid and at least 212 million of its people were undernourished in 2009, up from 44 million in 1996, he noted, emphasizing that agriculture and food security were among the surest ways for Africa to eradicate extreme poverty.
However, low-fertility soils, environmental degradation, scant technology and poor infrastructure were thwarting Africa’s best efforts to develop the agricultural sector, he said. Smallholder farmers, mostly women, who produced at least 90 per cent of the continent’s food supply, were particularly affected but lacked the money to make improvements. “Unless that trend is reversed, Africa will not be able to feed its population,” he warned, stressing that realization of the Millennium Development Goals would remain elusive without outside support.
Echoing those concerns, Ethiopia’s representative said the agricultural sector, which had suffered years of neglect and under-investment, must be placed high on the international development agenda, with greater spending on agricultural production — be it through official development assistance (ODA), foreign direct investment (FDI) or national-budget support. International agricultural development policies should focus on improving smallholder farmers’ production and processing systems, he said, hailing the Secretary-General’s report on agriculture and food security, but noting that it should have laid greater emphasis on the need for progress in implementing the outcome of the World Summit on Food Security.
Presenting that report for the Committee’s consideration, the Chief of the Policy Analysis and Networks Branch in the Sustainable Development Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs cited it in noting that for the first time since 1970, more than 1 billion people were hungry or undernourished. That figure had dropped to 925 million as of September 2010, but still represented 100 million more hungry people than a decade ago. The number suffering from hunger worldwide had fallen from 20 per cent in 1990, but the world was still less than half way to achieving the first Millennium Goal of halving the number of hungry people by 2015.
He said that, while an emergency meeting of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) last month had concluded that there was no indication of an impending world food crisis, new measures were still needed to check food-price volatility and manage associated risks. The world was taking considerable global action to prevent a crisis through emergency food aid and revitalization of the agriculture sector. For example, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme established in April had given grants to Bangladesh, Haiti, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Togo for the long-term growth and sustainability of smallholder farmers.
Noting that the Programme was expected to receive $1.5 billion in pledges over the next three years, he urged Governments to invest more in agricultural research and rural infrastructure; make affordable inputs available to support smallholder agriculture; prioritize under-nutrition as a problem in national development plans; and empower rural women by giving them equal access to productive resources, financing and markets.
Nepal’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, called on the international community to reverse the declining trend of ODA for the agricultural sector, and urged it to live up to the commitments made at the 2009 L’Aquila Food Security Summit, especially by investing $20 billion over three years to encourage rural development. The global food, financial and climate-change crises had gravely affected the efforts of least developed countries to achieve agricultural development and food security, he said. They had also suffered from decades of under-investment in key infrastructure, over-dependence on a few primary commodities, and high prices for seeds, fertilizer and pesticides.
To break the vicious cycle of low productivity and rampant poverty, he continued, there was a need to invest in irrigation, to transfer knowledge and technology and to integrate the management of farming systems, without undermining time-tested indigenous knowledge and practices. He also expressed deep concern over agricultural subsidies and called for an early conclusion of the Doha Development Round, in order to ensure the creation of non-distorted, non-discriminatory and equitable markets that could promote agricultural and rural development in least developed countries.
Australia’s representative shed light on steps that his country was taking to help least developed countries and others struggling with food security and agriculture development, saying it would spend $292 million on aid this year, and double its development assistance to $1.8 billion over the next five years to that end. Australia would also contribute $50 million to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme.
Also during the meeting, the representatives of Yemen and Morocco introduced six draft resolutions on several agenda items.
Other speakers today were representatives of Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), Indonesia (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations, or ASEAN), Mauritania (on behalf of the Arab Group), Guyana (on behalf of the Caribbean Community, or CARICOM), Switzerland, United States, India, South Africa, Cuba, Saint Lucia, Iran, Botswana, Sudan, Thailand, Ukraine, Nicaragua, Oman, Congo, Sri Lanka, Peru, Morocco, Japan, Jordan, Afghanistan, Qatar, Mongolia, Russian Federation, Myanmar, Libya, Israel, Venezuela, Uganda, Niger, Bolivia, Saudi Arabia, Republic of Korea, Bangladesh, Brazil, Mexico, China, Senegal and Chile.
Representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) also spoke.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply was the representative of Iran.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Friday, 29 October, to hold a panel discussion titled “Advancing sustainable development: What should Rio+20 achieve?”
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met today to take up its agenda item on agriculture development and food security. It was also expected to hear the introduction of six draft resolutions on various agenda items.
Before the Committee was the report of the Secretary-General on agriculture development and food security (document A/65/253), which states that two years after the 2008 global crisis over food prices, food insecurity persists in 29 countries worldwide, and more than one billion people remain hungry or undernourished. However, the international community’s concerted efforts to coordinate action on food and nutrition aid, increase resources for sustainable agricultural development, and improve support for smallholder farmers and farmers’ organizations have helped strengthen social safety nets. Those efforts are undertaken alongside country-led policy initiatives and are supported by regional and international strategies.
The report discusses the current global agriculture and food security situation, ongoing and emerging challenges, regional and global actions to respond to the food security crisis and difficulties in agricultural development, and national policies for sustainable agriculture and food security. It also discusses ways to maintain the global momentum towards achieving food security through agricultural development. For example, at the September 2009 high-level meeting on “Partnering for food security”, the Secretary-General proposed steps to move the internationally agreed principles on food security into action.
According to the report, the Secretary-General’s proposals called for Governments to advance effective country-led and regional strategies while developing national investment plans and programmes to do so; ensuring mutual accountability through public benchmarks, indicators and peer-review frameworks to measure progress; and developing a flexible financing architecture, including well-coordinated bilateral and multilateral mechanisms to support investment plans. He also expressed support for expanding North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation to develop and implement comprehensive country-led plans, and called on world leaders to work with regional economic communities, associations, organizations and agencies to strengthen mechanisms for financial and technical cooperation with donors and other stakeholders so as to facilitate regional economic integration.
The report states that ensuring broad ownership and inclusiveness is essential to achieving food and nutrition security, notably through wider, outcome-focused partnerships. Without substantial additional investment and better policies to support smallholder agriculture, many of the poorest countries will not realize the relevant Millennium Development Goal. Spending on agricultural production - through official development assistance (ODA), foreign direct investment (FDI) and national budget support – must be increased. Consistent, well-integrated national and subregional policies are the best solutions to agricultural and rural problems, the report says, stressing the need for rural organizations to be able to participate in and influence mechanisms and policy options in those areas.
Furthermore, the report states that a review of the many current efforts suggests that, despite increased coordination and communication among stakeholders invested in and affected by the food crisis, it remains to be seen whether the momentum of such processes will succeed in bringing about meaningful, long-term changes for poor smallholder farmers in developing countries, especially for women in countries currently requiring food assistance.
Also before the Committee was a note by the Secretary-General transmitting to the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council a note by the Chairperson of the Committee on World Food Security (document A/65/73–E/2010/51) on progress made towards reform of that body. Annexed to the note is the document “Reform of the Committee on World Food Security”, which was adopted by the Committee on World Food Security at its thirty-fifth session in Rome last October.
The document discusses key features of the reform process, noting that, as a central component of the evolving Global Partnership for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition, the reformed Committee would be the foremost inclusive international and intergovernmental platform for supporting country-led processes towards the elimination of hunger and ensuring food security and nutrition for all human beings. It would strive for a world free from hunger, in which countries would implement the “Voluntary guidelines for the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security”.
According to the paper, implementation of the Committee’s new roles will be carried out in two phases, the entailing global coordination, policy convergence, and support and advice to countries and regions, and the second involving national and regional coordination, promoting accountability, sharing best practices at all levels and developing a global strategic framework for food security and nutrition. The document also provides information on the Committee’s structures, membership and working methods.
Introduction of Report
DAVID O’CONNOR, Chief, Policy Analysis and Networks Branch, Division of Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on agriculture development and food security, recalling that following the crisis, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) had reported that for the first time since 1970, more than one billion people were hungry or undernourished. That figure had dropped to 925 million as of September 2010, but still represented 100 million more hungry people than a decade ago. While the proportion of hungry people had fallen from its 1990 level of 20 per cent, the world was still less than half way to achieving the first Millennium Goal of halving the number of hungry people by 2015, he said.
Moreover, the international community must remain on the alert regarding world food prices, he stressed, pointing out that an emergency FAO meeting last month had concluded that while there was no indication of an impending world food crisis, new measures were needed to check food-price volatility and manage associated risks. The agency predicted greater price volatility in the next decade than in the previous one due to repeated supply disruptions arising from extreme weather events, thin international grain markets and low buffer stocks, and financial speculation in commodity markets.
Noting that the past year had witnessed considerable global action to provide emergency food aid and revitalize the agriculture sector, he recalled that the 2009 World Summit on Food Security had produced the five Rome Principles, adopted by 60 Heads of State and Government as well as Ministers from 182 countries and the European Union. They had called for investment in country-owned agriculture and food security plans; national, regional and global strategic coordination; a comprehensive twin-track approach to food security; a strong role for the multilateral system; and sustained and substantial commitment by all partners to invest in agriculture, food security and nutrition.
He went on to highlight international efforts to implement the Rome Principles. For example, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme set up in April provided a financial mechanism to ensure the timely disbursement of funds to support the long-term growth and sustainability of smallholder farmers. The first five grants had been allocated to Bangladesh, Haiti, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Togo in June, he said, adding that the Programme held approximately $950 million in secure pledges. It was expected that a total of $1.5 billion would be received over the next three years.
The FAO Committee on World Food Security had been revitalized in 2009 to make it a more inclusive international platform, he continued, adding that during its session a few weeks ago, members of the High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis had circulated the Updated Comprehensive Framework for Action. The Scaling-up Nutrition – or SUN – Framework had been launched by a broad coalition of stakeholders during last month’s Millennium Development Goals Summit, he said, describing it as a global policy brief based on the observation that proper maternal and child nutrition during a critical 1,000-day window could have life-long repercussions for health and human development, and that a series of well-tested and low-cost interventions could enhance nutrition for vulnerable individuals if incorporated into food security.
It was encouraging that concerted efforts had been made to reverse the decline in agricultural investment of the past decades, including in the research most relevant to the food security of low-income countries, he said. There was a more comprehensive and coordinated international effort to address immediate food and nutrition needs while boosting long-term agricultural productivity. Adequate funding must be made available so that the Programme could function effectively, he said, emphasizing that without substantial additional investment, including in rural infrastructure, and better policies to support smallholder agriculture, many of the poorest countries would not realize the first Millennium Goal.
He urged Governments to enhance agriculture development and food security by investing more in agricultural research and rural infrastructure, ensure the timely availability of affordable inputs to support smallholder agriculture, prioritize under-nutrition as a problem in national development plans, and promote the empowerment of rural women as critical agents of change by ensuring they enjoyed equal access to productive resources, financing and markets, among other things.
The representative of Venezuela said in response that food-price volatility was the primary issue to be addressed, emphasizing that the international community must control the speculative movement of food prices. Available information showed the necessity for such action, he said, adding that there was also the problem of erosion occurring through transgenic production. The small-farm sector continued to enjoy a large share of world food production since production occurred close to the consumer, he said, stressing in that regard that any programme relating to food security must aim to protect small and medium-scale farms.
PIERRE CHARLIER (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said it was “simply unacceptable” that close to one billion people remained hungry or undernourished in today’s world. Collective efforts must build on the strong and coordinated international response to the recent global food crisis. For its part, the European Union had launched the €1 billion Food Facility in December 2008 to address immediate needs. It was crucial to increase resilience and prevent crises for the sake of collective efforts to improve global food security, he stressed, citing the European Union’s support for demand-led agricultural research, education, and technology transfer. High food-price volatility was a complex issue requiring an examination of policy options for addressing extreme volatility and its associated impacts, he said.
Increased financing of agricultural development and food security was indispensable, he said, welcoming commitments by African leaders, through the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in Africa, to raise budget expenditures in those areas by at least 10 per cent. Foreign and domestic private investment in developing-country agriculture sectors could complement public resources, but without clear regulations and commitment, such investments could jeopardize land rights and small-scale production. Open trade flows and efficient markets were important for the integration of developing countries into the global economy, he said. To that end, the European Union would continue to seek an ambitious, balanced and comprehensive conclusion to the Doha Development Round.
He went on to underscore the further importance of reinforcing the resilience of agricultural systems in the face of climate change. Environmentally, socially and economically, sustainable agricultural development and land management had important mitigation potential, and incentives to reward the provision of environmental services could be further explored with a view to ensuring full exploitation of existing synergies. In that regard, the European Union supported the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The L’Aquila Food Security Initiative was an essential coalition of countries and international bodies in fighting hunger, he said. In that respect, newly launched financial mechanisms, such as the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme and the African Agriculture Fund (AAF) were important additional channels for donor resources.
MANI RATNA SHARMA (Nepal), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and associating with the Group of 77 and China, said that despite the reliance of a majority of households in least developed countries on agriculture for their livelihoods, they benefited only minimally from that sector. The multiple global crises, in addition to the “disproportionate and unacceptable” impact of climate change, had gravely affected the efforts of least developed countries to achieve agricultural development and food security, undermining their pursuit of internationally agreed development objectives, including the Millennium Goals. Moreover, they had suffered from decades of underinvestment in key infrastructure, dependence on a narrow range of primary commodities and the unavailability or high prices of seeds, fertilizers and pesticides, among other inputs.
He said that because food security was closely associated with poverty alleviation, sustained economic growth and peace and security, there was an urgent need for concerted efforts to free humankind from poverty and hunger, as declared at the 2009 Rome World Summit on Food Security. National and global arrangements should be built on existing United Nations entities and international financial institutions ensuring their optimal use, coordination and effectiveness. In order to break the vicious cycle of low productivity and rampant poverty, he said, interventions were needed on irrigation, the transfer of knowledge and technology as well as integrated management of farming systems, without undermining time-tested indigenous knowledge and practices.
Calling on the international community to reverse the declining trend of ODA for the agricultural sector and urging an early fulfilment of commitments made at the 2009 L’Aquila Food Security Summit, he noted in particular the importance of the pledge to invest $20 billion over three years to encourage rural development. Given the close link connecting food security, agricultural development and climate change, there was a need to focus on adaptation and mitigation, as well as the management of water, land, soil and other natural resources, including biodiversity. Deeply concerned about agricultural subsidies in least developed countries, he called for an early conclusion of the Doha Development Round and for the creation of non-distorted, non-discriminatory and equitable markets that could promote agricultural and rural development in those countries, thus contributing to world food security.
DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the impact of food insecurity on the first Millennium Development Goal was obvious, but it was important not to underestimate its impact on the others, such as education, child mortality, maternal health and livelihoods. Unequivocal commitment was urgently needed in addressing the fundamental problems of agriculture development and food security. The last food crisis had attracted political attention at the highest levels of Government, but there was no sense of urgency among the global community to act on the root causes of food insecurity, he noted.
ASEAN continued to support the work of the FAO, WFP and the High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis, he said, stressing the need for harmonization and policy convergence among stakeholders internationally. A comprehensive approach that would strengthen the agricultural sector, particularly in developing countries, was needed to increase the supply of and access to food in a timely and sustainable manner, he said. He called for more investment in agricultural research, development and infrastructure; the creation of better information systems on food production, consumption, price movements and reserves with a view to establishing well-managed early-warning systems in coping with natural disasters; and international trade rules that would support agricultural development in developing countries.
Food security was of high importance to ASEAN, he said, adding that the regional bloc continued to intensify its efforts to address the interconnected challenges of food insecurity, malnutrition, poor health care, adverse and unfair agriculture market conditions, weak infrastructure and environmental degradation. Its members had implemented joint projects in the food, agriculture and forestry sectors, and had worked to strengthen food security through sustainable food production, better post-harvest practices, supportive marketing and regional trading arrangements. He noted also that the regional body had created the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve as a permanent scheme for meeting emergency requirements and achieving humanitarian aims.
MIKE MWANYULA ( Malawi), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said agriculture and food security remained one of the surest ways for Africa fully to eradicate extreme poverty. Realizing the Millennium Goals, particularly those relating to food security, would be a challenge since the continent’s food security situation had deteriorated over the past 50 years in comparison to other regions, he said, noting that today, Africa was receiving 3.8 million tons in food aid, accounting for 25 per cent of global food assistance. Moreover, at least 212 million people on the continent were undernourished in 2009, as compared to 44 million in 1996. Low-fertility soils, environmental degradation, limited access to relevant technologies and poor infrastructure continued to impede progress in developing the agricultural sector.
Most affected were smallholder farmers, mostly women, who produced at least 90 per cent of Africa’s food supply while lacking adequate financial support, he continued. Food-production levels on the continent were stagnant, he said, warning that “unless that trend is reversed, Africa will not be able to feed its population”. The African Union had put several initiatives in place to promote agricultural development, and the Heads of State and Government had committed to ensuring that the continent could effectively eliminate child mortality caused by hunger, starvation and malnutrition by 2015. In that regard, scaled-up international support was needed, he said.
The prevailing effects of climate change had adverse implications for the continent, which was not adequately resourced to address the challenge, he said, emphasizing that Africa’s ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change depended on the availability of both financial resources and the transfer of technology. Through an agriculture-based climate change mitigation framework developed by the African Union Commission and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the Heads of State had agreed to establish an inter-ministerial mechanism to bring together agriculture, environment and water Ministers. Finally, he called for the fulfilment of commitments to increase ODA for food security.
SIDATI OULD CHEIKH (Mauritania), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said most Arab countries had arid and semi-arid climates and therefore faced severe constraints in agricultural development, in addition to intensifying drought and severe water scarcity. The global financial and food crisis was a warning to the Arab world of the need for urgent measures to achieve food security, he said, adding that Qatar would host an international summit on the issue in October 2011.
Noting that Africa had suffered most from climate change, he said the continent was home to 15 of the more than 16 countries in which hunger affected more than 35 per cent of their respective populations. Until the global economic crisis receded and food prices declined, that continent in particular would face serious difficulties in realizing the first Millennium Goal of halving hunger by 2015. The shortage of food led many African countries to rely on food aid, which fuelled a vicious cycle of poverty and food insecurity, he said.
Arab and African countries were working together to address those challenges, he said. In February, the Arab-African Ministerial Conference on Agricultural Development and Food Security had adopted a joint African-Arab Action Plan involving joint efforts to intensify the exchange of food supplies, the creation of food reserves, the development of infrastructure and trade, and bolstering agricultural research and technology transfer. The international community’s support for such cooperation would likely increase its effectiveness and strengthen the capacity of developing countries to deal with the repercussions of the food crisis, he said.
The Arab region faced other challenges as a result of the continuing Israeli occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and other Arab lands in Syria and Lebanon, he said. According to FAO and other reports, Israel’s illegal practices, including settlement construction, the uprooting of fruit trees, the bulldozing of agricultural fields and the seizure of land and water resources had led to food insecurity affecting more than 1.6 million people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he said. It was the international community’s duty to compel Israel to end the starvation imposed on the Palestinian people, and to respect its obligations under international law to end its occupation of all Arab lands.
GEORGE TALBOT (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), noted that the group had pursued approaches to harnessing the agricultural sector’s potential, adding that the Caribbean Week of Agriculture was a valuable mechanism for highlighting the region’s achievements in that area. Developments such as the earthquake in Haiti, food-price volatility and the multiple global crises had adversely affected small, vulnerable developing States like his own, he said, noting that since most agriculture in the region was carried out by smallholder and subsistence farmers, it was important to boost their production while promoting the empowerment and participation of rural women.
To that end, Caribbean countries were now working in collaboration with the FAO as part of the Hunger Free Latin America and Caribbean Initiative to implement policies aimed at supporting small-scale farming, he continued. Through that programme, Governments were encouraged to boost domestic staple-food markets, increase the productivity of small-scale farming and implement risk-management mechanisms. For its part, CARICOM was coordinating its efforts through the Jagdeo Initiative, a strategic framework to transform the agriculture sector into an internationally competitive one with increased capacity, he noted.
Financing for development within the region was limited, and there was a need for higher and more consistent levels of financing, particularly with regard to climate-change adaptation, he stressed, underscoring also the need for a multilateral trading system that took greater account of the special needs of small vulnerable economies. In that regard, he called for renewed action to ensure the conclusion of the Doha Development Round. He also called for a strong global consensus and strong, systematic and strategic action in the short, medium and long term to promote food security. Moreover, synergies between agriculture, development, and food-security policies at the national and international levels must be enhanced, he said, stressing that States must prioritize and mainstream agriculture and food security into development policies.
MARCO ROSSI ( Switzerland) said urgent action was required to meet the challenges of agriculture and food security. To do that, Switzerland had pursued an increase in global food production by enhancing productivity, efficiency and sustainable intensification, through more efficient and sustainable use of natural resources, improved global governance for agriculture and food security, and a more effective, rule-based global trading system that addressed the problem of volatility on international agricultural markets.
Underlining the need for more investment in agriculture, rural development and infrastructure, he said an emphasis on family farms was also necessary. Multifunctional agriculture based on small-scale farms could play a key role in development and in efforts to reduce poverty. Responsibility and benefits should be shared in a more equitable way among all stakeholders along the food-supply chain, he said, noting, however, that merely spending money was not enough. It was also essential to ensure an appropriate policy environment in terms of macroeconomic conditions, good governance, physical infrastructure and structural policies so that investments could yield the desired results.
He went on to express concern about the growing scarcity of natural resources, saying they should be used more efficiently. All international organizations dealing with agriculture and food security must improve their coordination, enhance their effectiveness and avoid duplication of efforts, he said, calling also for a conclusion of the Doha Development Round and the creation of a transparent, fair and rule-based global trading system. Open trade flows and transparent, efficient markets could help reduce volatility and strengthen food security. He called on relevant United Nations organizations, particularly the High-level Panel of Experts of the reformed Committee on World Food Security, to analyse further the factors behind commodity-price volatility, and to propose policy options to reduce the negative effects of volatility.
JOHN SAMMIS (United States), noting the increase in the number of people suffering from chronic hunger despite continuing population increases, said his country’s bilateral Feed the Future Initiative helped countries accelerate inclusive agriculture-sector growth and highlighted the importance of such cross-cutting issues as gender, environment and climate change. He said that in light of the critical importance of both donor and recipient countries following through on their commitments, the United States was working with other G-8 and G-20 countries, as well as the FAO, the World Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Asian Development Bank and other international partners to assist developing countries that had demonstrated their own commitment to develop comprehensive, country-owned agriculture and food-security investment plans.
He said the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme, a fund launched by several Governments and the Gates Foundation to provide financing for the agricultural-development strategies of poor countries, had already allocated $224 million to five countries. Commitments from other donors would be needed to help ensure predictable financing for both financial and technical assistance. The Programme had recently launched a private sector facility, with initial pledges of $100 million, to promote the growth of competitive agribusiness sectors, focusing on smallholder farmers, including women. He also stressed the importance of nutrition as a key component of food security, calling attention to last month’s “1,000 Days, Change a Life, Change the Future” event as a first step to jump-starting global efforts in support of the “Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Framework”.
D. RAJA (India), noting that some 29 countries, mostly least developed ones, were in a permanent state of food insecurity, said the Government of India had undertaken several measures to tackle agriculture development and food security in an integrated manner. It had launched a national food-security mission to enhance the production of rice, wheat and pulses by 20 million tonnes by 2012, in addition to taking steps to provide crop and cattle insurance. The enactment of food-security legislation was also under consideration, he said, stressing, however, that global action was required to enhance global food security. “No single country can, on its own, handle such complex issues,” he added.
Reiterating his country’s support for the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative, he called upon States to meet their financial commitments to enhance the capabilities of developing countries in designing and implementing effective strategies. South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries had agreed to establish a food bank to enhance their collective food security, he said, encouraging other regional groups to do the same. Coordinated efforts must ensure higher investment in agriculture, greater use of modern technology and access to farm credit, while bearing ecological and environmental concerns in mind, he said. Furthermore, ongoing multilateral trade negotiations must keep in mind the need to safeguard agriculture and the livelihoods of people in developing countries.
YOSEPH KASSAYE YOSEPH (Ethiopia), noting that the future appeared grim, said the 2010-2019 Agricultural Outlook of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the FAO forecast that international commodity prices would be higher on average in the next decade due to a surge in economic growth among developing countries and rising biofuel production. An even gloomier prospect awaited sub-Saharan African countries, where agricultural production was projected to remain stagnant. The international community should take more stringent, coordinated steps to address the problems associated with agriculture and food security, he said, stressing that the agricultural sector, which had suffered years of neglect and under-investment, must be placed high on the international development agenda.
International agricultural development policies should focus on improving the production and processing systems of smallholder farmers, he said, adding that such policies could help address the needs of the most vulnerable if implemented in line with country-led policies and initiatives. Expressing his country’s support for the work of the High-level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis, he said building the capacity of smaller economies to adapt to the impact of climate change reduced the risk of food insecurity and the demand for humanitarian action. He noted with satisfaction the Secretary-General’s report on agriculture and food security, but said it should have given more emphasis to progress in implementing the outcome of the World Summit on Food Security. While Member States had the primary role in ensuring food and nutrition security for all, other actors had vital contributions to make, particularly in implementing the outcome of the Summit and the five Rome Principles. He asked the Secretariat to report on major achievements in that regard.
DOCTOR MASHABANE (South Africa), citing the 2010 report The State of Food Insecurity in the World, noted that the number of hungry people globally would decrease from one billion to about 925 million in 2010. In light of global population growth, the international community must consider how it would be able to feed itself in 2050. Meaningful, long-term global partnership and cooperation was the only way through which the issue of food insecurity and agricultural development could be successfully addressed, he said. In that regard, South Africa called on donors to implement the commitments made in the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative.
He said the role of the Committee on World Food Security as an inclusive international and intergovernmental platform for a broad range of committed stakeholders must be fully recognized. In order to overcome prevailing challenges, States should support the strengthening of mechanisms responsible for the global governance of food security and nutrition, he said, calling on the international community to invest more in agriculture an to strengthen national initiatives to increase production. Finally, he urged States to provide affordable credit to smallholder farmers, especially women, and to help review and develop a new “agenda for action” for countries experiencing protracted crisis.
MAYTE MASOT (Cuba) said that although the number of people suffering from chronic hunger around the world had dropped from 1.02 billion to 925 million, the number of hungry people was still “unacceptably high”, and higher than it had been prior to the international economic and food crises. That would not improve as long as large transnational corporations controlled prices, technologies, distribution channels and sources of funding in world food production, to name a few aspects. Furthermore, developed countries subsidized their agricultural production, while the situation of small farmers in the underdeveloped world was becoming more precarious, and the use of biofuels affected the food staples worldwide.
She said her country was achieving the goals set at the 1996 World Food Summit and in the 2000 Millennium Declaration, but the cruel and unjust economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba constituted the main obstacle to its citizens’ right to food, as stated in the Third National Report on the Fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals and in its report on the negative effects of the blockade, in accordance with the relevant General Assembly resolution. The blockade was “doomed to disappear” because it was morally and ethically unsustainable, she stated, adding that Cuba was focusing on food security through regional initiative such as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America and its Food Security Fund, which mitigated high food prices.
DONATUS KEITH ST. AIMEE ( Saint Lucia) said small, open economies like those in the Caribbean depended heavily on food imports. As net importers, they suffered greatly from food-price increases, compounded by the prolonged economic and food crises. The confluence of recent crises had forced them to take a look at recovery “from the ground up” and to integrate agriculture into development policies. It made sense to invest in appropriate incentives to promote the production and consumption of locally and regionally produced nutritious food, he said, adding that a well-nourished population had an increased capacity to work and participate in its own advancement. Agriculture had a principal role in his country’s socio-economic development, he said, adding that Saint Lucia’s food-import bill stood at about $3.5 billion, a price that increased exponentially alongside the cost of grain.
Efforts were underway to reformulate food policies and change lifestyle habits, he said, noting that Caribbean Governments were forging ahead to develop food-security policies. During a meeting in Grenada earlier this month, regional ministers had expressed their commitment to ensuring that agriculture became and remained one of the region’s major economic drivers. He thanked the FAO and other development partners for their support for the creation of a dynamic, robust agri-food sector, noting that the aim was to develop long-lasting polices and to end dependence on food imports. The challenge of responding to climate change and ensuring sustainable development while keeping the focus on food production must be developed enough to feed more than 9 million people by 2050. The agricultural sector must be made more environment-friendly, he emphasized, noting also that agricultural subsidies were harmful for everyone, and calling on developed countries to lower trade barriers.
AHMAD RAJABI ( Iran) described the food crisis as both a great humanitarian concern and a threat to social and political stability. Desertification was a major challenge with clear negative effects on agricultural production and sustainable development. High-income consumers, mostly in developed countries, continued to set consumption standards that were increasing unsustainable, he said, stressing that “the earth cannot support 9 billion people with consumption and production patterns like those prevalent in developed countries”. In that regard, international cooperation was needed to tackle the food crisis effectively and meet the interests of all stakeholders.
A coordinated global response was the only reliable solution, he said, adding that States must reach an agreement on agricultural development within the framework of multilateral negotiations. Long-standing agricultural export subsidies and domestic-support policies in developed countries must be reduced, he said, adding that a comprehensive response to global food-price speculation was also needed. Finally he stressed the need for more investment in food production and productivity in developing countries, as well as the provision of cheap and reliable credit to small farmers. The international community must also aim to raise agricultural productivity for a substantial increase of both food consumption and land use for non-food purposes.
CHARLES NTWAAGAE ( Botswana) said the eradication of hunger and poverty could not be achieved without sustained efforts to boost productivity in agriculture and food production. Botswana was semi-arid and highly susceptible to harsh climatic conditions, including drought, erratic rainfall and heatwaves. Those conditions had over the years led to low agricultural output, leading Botswana increasingly to become a net importer of food. Government programmes and various schemes were being implemented to support farmers and agricultural production, he said, citing the Agricultural Hub, established in 2009 to modernize the agricultural base, and a comprehensive review of the agricultural sector completed in the same year.
The latter was aimed at supporting research on new crop varieties, the distribution of small machinery as well as harvest and post-harvest activities, among others, he continued. Other schemes included the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency and the Local Enterprise Authority, both of which supported agriculture through grants, low-interest loans and support services to individuals and local industries. Botswana was also working to identify unutilized agricultural land for leasing to potential investors, and approximately 15,000 hectares were under consideration in negotiations. A total of 16 State farms had been leased to foreign investors in an effort to commercialize agriculture, he said.
However, complex challenges, including the global economic crisis and AIDS, had severely impacted Botswana, including through a loss of labour force production exceeding 6.6 per cent, he said. Overcoming those challenges would require “concerted, aggressive and innovative” farming techniques and new technologies. Financial and technical assistance for the implementation of the Government’s policies and programmes was much needed, he said, adding in that regard that grants, rather than loans, would be far more effective in ensuring Botswana’s success in that area, and urging effective implementation of the L’Aquila Statement.
AMAR DAOUD ( Sudan) said the increase in food prices had made it very challenging to fight poverty and hunger, in addition to thwarting international efforts to achieve food security. Noting that Khartoum was hosting the Fifth Ministerial Meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference on Agriculture and Food security, he called on the Meeting to implement comprehensive policies to fight hunger and support sustainable development within the framework of international programmes that addressed the need of developing countries, particularly in Africa, for integration and access to international markets.
He said developed countries should eliminate their agricultural subsidies, he said, noting that the Millennium Development Goals report on Africa showed that a rise in food prices was hindered by such subsidies, which also thwarted agricultural development and reform. Sudan supported agriculture as a pillar of national development. It was continuing negotiations to meet standards and criteria for access to international organizations, and needed opportunities to develop. Stating Sudan’s renewed commitment to the development of a more effective world system based on common but differentiated responsibilities, he said the key was an international trading system based on fairness and sustainable development for all countries.
SUWANNEE ARUNSAWADIWONG (Thailand), associating with the “Group of 77” developing countries and ASEAN, said many countries in Southeast Asia had been devastated by cyclones, storms and continuing heavy rains. As a major rice producer and exporter, Thailand hoped that the climate change dimension of food security would be investigated further and addressed.
The consequences of the 2008 food crisis, including price volatility and speculation, had affected food accessibility for low-income and vulnerable populations, she said, expressing concern that smallholder farmers could not reap the benefits of the consequent higher food prices due to their inability to adapt to fast-changing market conditions. In order to achieve food security and eradicate poverty and hunger, those problems should be addressed through a dual-track approach on both the supply and demand sides.
She said that increasing the market food supply was a priority, adding that responsible private investment, including FDI, in the agricultural sector could contribute to enhancing productivity. Governments also needed to address such concerns as land grabbing, displacement of local populations, environment degradation and negation of the rights of local communities. As for the demand side, she said the key to ensuring affordable food for everyone was to maintain free, fair and open international food trade by ensuring the efficient functioning of market mechanisms, reducing market distortions and promoting greater transparency.
GARY QUINLAN ( Australia) welcomed the updating of the Comprehensive Framework for Action as well as the ongoing reform of the Committee on World Food Security, which focused on creating an inclusive platform to address the challenges of food and nutrition security. The establishment of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme was also a significant step in global cooperation, and Australia would be contributing $50 million to its fund. In response to the impact of the 2008 food-price crisis, Australia would be spending $292 million on agriculture and food-security assistance to developing countries during the current year, and would double its development assistance to $1.8 billion over the next five years in support of agricultural development and food security, he said.
He recalled that in the past 30 years, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research had carried out more than 1,200 collaborative agricultural development projects in 50 developing countries around the world. Some of them involved boosting rice yields in Cambodia and assisting beef cattle smallholders in Southern Africa, to name a few. He noted, however, that the promotion of agriculture development and food security should not be limited to development assistance, recognizing to that end the vital importance of reforming international trade policies. Global market distortions had discouraged investment and slowed productivity, he said, pointing out that reducing agricultural subsidies and trade barriers, would increase opportunities and incentives for developing-country farmers while reducing the risks of another food price crisis.
YEVHENII TSYMBALIUK (Ukraine), associating with the European Union, emphasized the need to strengthen global governance of world food security, saying his country supported United Nations activities, G-8 and G-20 initiatives aimed at promoting the efficiency, responsiveness and effectiveness of the relevant multilateral institutions. Coordination among all United Nations agencies, especially the FAO, IFAD and WFP, must be intensified, he said, adding that the Organization must continue to work as a system, making use of the comparative advantages of its institutions, including “Delivering as One”, at the country level.
As a member of the Committee on World Food Security, Ukraine fully supported its reform, he said. Challenges to achieving sustainable agricultural development persisted, and it was vital to continue addressing them while increasing investment in agriculture. Only a healthy agriculture sector, combined with a growing economy and effective social protection programmes, would be sufficient in eradicating food insecurity and poverty, he said, emphasizing also the critical importance of improving access to international and regional markets for agricultural products from emerging-market economies. He affirmed Ukraine’s readiness to continue working as a reliable partner in addressing food crises, and noted that the country had become a donor to the WFP for the first time in 2009.
DANILO ROSALES DIAZ ( Nicaragua) said his country’s food-sovereignty strategy was designed to ensure its citizens’ right to be protected from hunger. The current international economic order, and economic policies which ran contrary to the agricultural sustainability of developing countries, had led to dire consequences, he said, adding that without a new economic order, only partial progress could be achieved. The FAO had selected Nicaragua’s programme for school nutrition as one of the four best in the world, he said, adding that the agency had also noted in its 2010 report that the country had achieved Millennium Goal 1 by reducing malnutrition.
That achievement had been made possible by the introduction of microcredit, with an emphasis on empowering women, particularly in the agricultural sphere, he said. The “Zero Hunger” programme, a key element of Nicaragua’s national strategy, helped provide rural family farms with environmentally clean agricultural technologies. Under that programme, women became owners of food packages which included cows, poultry, seeds and plants, and gained access to funding through revolving, sustainable credit. Training on gender-related farming issues, animal health, environment, marketing and other topics was also provided, he said, adding that microcredit programmes for the worst off had become a tangible reality for at least 1 million citizens, thanks primarily to funding from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America and Petrocaribe.
Introduction of Draft Resolutions
The representative of Yemen, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, then introduced draft resolutions on the following agenda items: Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development” (document A/C.2/65/L.7); culture and development (document A/C.2/65/L.9); Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries (document A/C.2/65/L.5); groups of countries in specific situations: specific actions related to the particular needs and problems of landlocked developing countries: outcome of the International Ministerial Conference of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries and Donor Countries and International Financial and Development Institutions on Transit Transport Cooperation (document A/C.2/65/L.8); and industrial development cooperation (document A/C.2/65/L.11).
The representative of Morocco introduced a draft resolution on the promotion of ecotourism for poverty eradication and environment protection (document A/C.2/65/L.10).
The Committee then resumed its consideration of agriculture development and food security.
SULTAN ALAZRI (Oman), associating with the Arab Group, said global challenges such as climate change, desertification, drought and rising energy prices had expanded the gap between populations. With regard to food security, the Government of Oman believed that there was a need for a long-term strategy to raise local production of foodstuffs, which would support farmers through such actions as using warehouses to increase their strategic reserves.
The private sector should also be encouraged to play a role, he added, underlining also the need to examine the possibility of foreign investment in food production. In that context, he welcomed the international community’s constructive approach in working to achieve the Millennium Goals relating to the global lack of food. Finally, he stressed the importance of need to stabilize food-price fluctuations.
PIERRE MAYALA ( Congo) said the recent food and financial crises showed that the food market was too weak to sustain shocks, adding that there must be effective and sustainable solutions to finance agriculture. International efforts to finance the agriculture sector were commendable, he said, welcoming the creation of the High-level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis. The launch of a global programme for agriculture and food security was essential for Africa, he said, noting that the role of agricultural organizations was increasingly recognized.
The scope of current challenges called for further efforts, he continued, adding that the Secretary-General’s report shed light on global approaches to achieving food security. Congo had made agricultural development a priority, he said, pointing out that the right to food was inscribed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments. The gravity of the current situation called for global solidarity and the strengthening of international initiatives.
Congo was focused on breaking free from its dependence on food imports, he said. With its arable land and favourable climatic conditions, the country had implemented a national food security valued for 2008-2012 which entailed establishing villages specializing in raising poultry as well as eggs and cassava. The country had also set up an agricultural support fund focused on herd replenishment. Congo had also created vast palm plantations, he added, noting that the Government would invest $80 million in the agriculture sector over the next four years.
SAMANTHA JAYASURIYA ( Sri Lanka) said States must put their energies together so as not to lose the momentum set at the Millennium Development Goals Summit in September, and stressed the need to ameliorate current practices of harnessing global environmental resources, including land and water. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) had deliberated on a “SAARC Agriculture Vision 2020” in efforts to develop a science-based strategy for a collective SAARC response to threats and challenges, she said, emphasizing that developing countries must have the necessary policy space to support domestic agrarian sectors. Also at the regional level, there was a need to enhance cooperation by exchanging best practices and building food reserves.
At the international level, she underscored the need for more investment in agriculture since assistance to that sector had declined from 18 per cent of total aid in 1979 to 4.3 per cent in 2008. Furthermore, there was an urgent need to implement adaptation mechanisms in vulnerable countries and help build their response capacity by transferring cost-effective food production technologies. Highlighting her own country’s measures to tackle food security, she said the Government had provided humanitarian food supplies to civilians in conflicts zones over 28 years of internal conflict. Sri Lanka had also prioritized the diversification of agricultural activities, the integration of crop and livestock production and the promotion of high-value crops and value-added products in efforts to improve the living standards of rural communities.
VICTOR MUNOZ ( Peru) called for coordination and cooperation to create food security in all countries, particularly the poorest, through investment, financing mechanisms, South-South and triangular cooperation. It was necessary to adhere to the five Rome Principles, with clear reference to permanently overcoming the main threats to food security in developing countries, he said, adding that poor people’s lack of access to food was one consequence of climate change.
He said agriculture was a large part of his country’s economy, accounting for 62.8 per cent of it, and constituting the main source of income in rural areas. However, only 34 per cent of Peru’s land had appropriate irrigation systems, and the depended exclusively on rainfall. Because of that, the country’s agriculture was very vulnerable to climate change, he said, noting that its glaciers had shrunk by 20 per cent to 30 per cent in the last 40 years. That had short-term and long-term implications for agricultural productivity, exacerbating poverty and the vulnerability of rural populations.
The increase in climate variability had created more pressure on the nation’s already fragile agriculture system, he continued. Floods, drought and storms were among the negative consequences of climate change, and showed the need for national disaster and climate change risk-management systems to reduce the impact on food security. Measures were also needed to help rural populations adapt to and mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and its consequences on economic growth and food security, he said.
FAIÇAL SOUISSI ( Morocco) noted that one child died of hunger every six seconds and millions more from malnutrition each year, pointing out that many countries had hastily adopted inappropriate food regimes simply to feed their citizens. Despite commitments made by States, there had not been sufficient political will or financial resources to reduce suffering and global food security remained elusive. The effects of climate change produced a cause-and-effect relationship which demonstrated the link connecting food security, climate change, and efforts to combat its consequences, such as desertification. The international community must consider ecosystem resiliency in its efforts to ensure food security, he stressed.
Calling for the adoption of a multidimensional focus, he said that in order to achieve food security, there must be concerted international cooperation focused on the integrated, inclusive use of all economic, social and human development results. South-South cooperation would be extremely useful to that end. He called attention to the “degrading” food situation in several countries in Africa’s Sahel region, particularly Niger, and called for the implementation of the outcome of the 2009 Rome World Summit on Food Security. For its part, Morocco had undertaken major agricultural-development efforts and had succeeded in reducing its dependence on the international market, he said.
DO OZAKI (Japan), noting that enhancing global food security was one of his countries foreign-policy priorities, stressed the importance of supporting the whole value-chain from production to distribution, through assistance for the development of water resources and irrigation, to transportation. In order to accommodate the inevitably rising demand for food, there was a need to increase agricultural production, both in terms of quantity and productivity, he said. Japan had therefore initiated the “Coalition for African Rice Development” to double rice production in sub-Saharan Africa between 2008 and 2018.
Since agriculture was the foundation of many developing economies, agricultural development should not only be tackled from the perspective of poverty alleviation but also that of boosting economic growth, he said. In that regard, private investment in agriculture should be promoted, he said, cautioning, however, that poorly conceived or executed investments, including could have negative effects on political stability, human rights, sustainable food production or environment protection. Japan had therefore launched the “Responsible Agricultural Investment” initiative to establish a set of guidelines aimed at harmonizing and maximizing the benefits of investment for receiving countries, local communities and investors.
DIANA AL-HADID ( Jordan) said that despite technological advances, hunger and malnutrition still threatened millions of people due to climate disasters, population growth, civil unrest and restrictions on trade. The dry areas of the developing world – occupying 3 billion hectares and home to one third of the global population — were vulnerable to droughts and unreliable water supplies. The current food insecurity, which affected countries around the world, called for investment in infrastructure as well as research on macroeconomic policies, production technology and trade facilitation.
She said agriculture was one of the most important sectors of Jordan’s economy, despite insufficient water and a lack of arable land. Despite erosion and land degradation, the sector had enjoyed a tremendous boost over the last three decades owing to the implementation of a national strategic plan for agricultural development. The sector was considered one of the most important economic pillars for Jordan’s development, she added.
ENAYET MADANI ( Afghanistan) said prospects for his country’s agricultural production were not optimistic given the vast damage to the physical infrastructure caused by conflicts that had disrupted the way of life, as well as Afghanistan’s high dependence on rain-fed agriculture. Millions of Afghans were either starving or threatened with starvation, depending on food aid for survival. It was critical to rapidly revive the country’s agricultural sector through restructuring and investment, while also paying attention to long-term environmental sustainability.
Agriculture comprised 53 per cent of the country’s national economy and was vital for its reconstruction, he stressed. Afghanistan appreciated international humanitarian aid during its recovery period, and also sought partnerships to build better and more accessible irrigation systems, technology and better agricultural practices. Some 37 per cent of the Afghan population was on the verge of food insecurity, he said, adding that 59 per cent of children under the age of years five suffered from stunted growth due to malnutrition. Seasonally-driven poverty and food shortages were also evident, he said.
To restore the agricultural sector, he continued, national development strategies focused on reducing poverty and securing livelihoods, as well as improving the quantity and quality of the agricultural sector while reducing stress on natural systems through better water and national resource development. They also included identifying gaps in the current agricultural system to ensure comprehensive production and market development, and expanding road and communications networks that would empower the poor. The focus was on strengthening local institutions by creating community-development councils and expanding the civil service, he said.
MOHAMMED AL-OUTAIBI (Qatar), associating with the Group of 77 and the Arab Group, said food security was achieved only when all people, at all times, were provided with the financial, social and economic means that allowed them to obtain adequate, safe and nutritious food to meet their needs and food preferences. The four pillars of food security were availability, access, use and stability of supplies. Describing the scope of drought and desertification in the world, as well as the probability that those problems would be exacerbated by climate change, he expressed hope for greater awareness of them and greater attention to the productivity of dry lands, which now produced some 30 per cent of the crops consumed around the world.
The Qatar National Food Security Programme, established in 2008, was an integral part of the country’s development plans and aimed to enhance local agricultural production, while securing food imports to meet shortfalls, he said. It aimed to serve as a model for other dry countries and would provide results to the Government of Qatar in the form of a master plan that would be completed by the end of 2012. Qatar sought to cooperate with other countries facing drought and to share technology and best practices. The country renewed its commitment to drought mitigation and anti-desertification measures, he said, adding that it would take steps to enhance food security through the reclamation of land for agriculture, the development of innovative farming methods and by hosting a summit on food security in the Arab world next October.
ENKHTSETSEG OCHIR ( Mongolia) endorsed fully the Rome Principles for sustainable global food security and welcomed measures by the Secretary-General’s High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis, saying the latter’s twin-track approach was a viable strategy for fighting poverty and hunger in the long term. Following Mongolia’s difficult transition to a market economy, the country’s agricultural sector had nearly collapsed, with crop production down from self-sufficiency and imports comprising more than of 70 per cent of its food staples, she said.
The Government had launched the Third Crop Rehabilitation Campaign in 2008 to address that issue, she said, adding that as a result of that campaign and other related programmes, agricultural production had gradually increased. The Government had also taken step-by-step actions to improve the coherence of its policy framework, revive industrial production and increase food supplies while ensuring food security. The National Food Security Programme (2009-2013), which allocated resources from State budgets, the private sector and donors, aimed to enhance national and household food security, safety and nutrition. She called for continuing cooperation with bilateral and multilateral partners to develop and implement policies to address the agriculture sector’s structural weaknesses and increase the productivity of small farmers.
SERGEY KONONUCHENKO ( Russian Federation) stressed the need for responses to the global food crisis, saying the crisis was one of the most pressing problems in the world today. It jeopardized realization of the Millennium Goals, he said, noting that it was systemic and characterized by a drop in all areas of agricultural production. There was a global consensus on the need for collective action in the short term, medium term and long term at all levels, he said, citing the 2008 Rome Declaration as a good example of positive collective efforts.
The international community had a general understanding of the urgent need to give food aid to countries in need, he said, expressing support for the work of the High-level Task Force and calling for continuing implementation of its programme of action. He also urged increasing agricultural production and intensifying the modernization of agricultural production in order to stabilize world food markets.
He said his country had taken several steps to help overcome the global food crisis, including by increasing food aid to developing countries. In 2009, the Russian Federation had contributed $26.5 million to the FAO, and had also given food aid to Armenia, Guinea, Zimbabwe and many other nations. It was the leading donor of the WFP’s food operations in Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian countries, he said, adding that this year, it had contributed $22 million to the WFP, as well as $30 million for its one-time emergency assistance actions.
U HAN THU (Myanmar), emphasizing the need for more investment in the agricultural sector, said that, in line with calls made at the World Summit on Food Security, his country fully supported strengthening the role of the Committee on World Food Security as well as the establishment of a High-level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition. Agriculture was a main pillar of Myanmar’s economy, and the Government’s national development plan prioritized poverty eradication and rural development. He underscored the importance of sustainable use of land and resources as the underlying foundation for agricultural development, stressing also the need for a special focus on the needs of small-scale farmers.
He said his country’s investments in its agricultural sector over the past 20 years had paid off, since its current paddy production had allowed it to feed its 59 million citizens and retain a surplus. However, there was a need to do more for all-round socio-economic development. The international community must be vigilant with regard to the effects of changing demographic, epidemiological, environmental, climatic and economic trends, both nationally and internationally. States must cooperate to achieve Millennium Goal 1, as global issues called for effective and efficient global solutions, he stressed. “Our pledge to halve poverty and hunger by 2015 must be met.”
Mr. HABIL ( Libya) said the world was facing an acute food crisis that had caused wide-scale food insecurity in many developing countries. Aid to alleviate food insecurity was a positive step, but the real solution was to end the erroneous policies of the last decade, he stressed. Climate change had hindered agricultural production, and unfair policies on global food markets had also had serious consequences. Pointing out that the developed world spent $1.5 trillion on arms, he wondered what would happen if it earmarked a portion of that money to combat poverty and avert famine.
The food crisis illustrated the need to find remedies, he said, citing international agency reports that said the world had enough to feed itself properly. Investment in agriculture was essential in combating poverty and hunger, and particularly important for infrastructure, enhancing cooperation and research and development. The agricultural development efforts of developing countries must be supported, he stressed. He underscored the need to resume the Doha Round.
It was also important to follow up on the conclusions of the seventeenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, which focused on agriculture and food security, he said, adding that it was quite evident that the international community must intensify efforts to ensure increased food production. He called for financing and support for national capacity-building, and said his country had made efforts to mitigate the crisis and ensure food security by planting wheat on a large scale as the best tool to combat hunger. Encouraging large-scale crop production in parts of Africa, he said that in July 2009, his own and other African nations had adopted a declaration on investment in agriculture and food security.
GERSHON KEDAR ( Israel) noted that his country had acquired considerable knowledge and expertise through its own rapid and successful agricultural development, and planned to continue sharing best practices with partners through MASHAV, Israel’s agency for international development cooperation. Highlighting some projects undertaken through that agency, he said the Techno-agricultural Innovation for Poverty Alleviation programme was based on a bottom-up approach and targeted smallholder farmers and agricultural communities.
MASHAV had recently launched an 11-month educational programme for South-East Asian students of agriculture, he said, adding that it combined hands-on training for students on Israeli farms with classroom instruction. In partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Israel also supported the Songhai Centre in Benin, which sought to create viable socio-economic environments. He underscored the importance of empowering women as a crucial part of any effective strategy for agricultural development and food security. As a way to promote cooperation between Governments, civil society, the private sector and non-governmental organizations, Israel had marked International Development Day yesterday marked with a conference on development challenges, he said.
FRANKLIN RANGEL ( Venezuela) said there could be no development if the poverty of the people and of the land continued to grow. “The same forces that have been destroying the planet are the same ones that have caused this growth in poverty. This is why we need a safe planet which is unaffected by climate change, and a humanity that is not a victim of hunger,” he said. Noting that 82 per cent of the global seed market was under intellectual property, he said Monsanto controlled 88 per cent of the market for genetically modified seeds, and just six companies controlled the entire market. That was why a commercial vision in favour of big companies was being pursued in analysing the causes of food insecurity.
He pointed out that 85 per cent of food was still produced near the places where it was consumed, and most of the seeds were still in the hand of farmers. The production of biofuels had increased, as had agricultural prices. “We cannot allow the expansion of the polluting, industrial and transgenic agriculture,” he emphasized, adding: “It is essential to ensure the expansion of an agriculture that is diverse, decentralized and healthier for people and the planet.” He then went on to outline the actions that the Government of Venezuela had undertaken to achieve sustainable agricultural production at the national level.
BENEDICT LUKWIYA ( Uganda) described his country’s efforts to promote agricultural-sector development and food security, before saying that the impact of climate change, such as drought and flooding, was responsible for crop failure in sub-Saharan Africa. “Those who bear the historical responsibility for climate change must own up quickly and join the rest of the international community in providing support for adaptation in vulnerable countries and regions, as well as in finding a real solution to climate change,” he said, calling for timely delivery on food-security commitments pledged at L’Aquila, Italy.
He said many developing countries had already advanced valuable country-led and regional strategies, having recognized that increased involvement by civil society and the private sector was a key factor of success. The international community must provide substantial additional investment in support of smallholder agriculture, and increase spending on agricultural production through ODA, FDI and national budget support. That should be accompanied by consistent, well-integrated national and subregional policies that would take national, subregional and international constraints into account.
ABOUBACAR IBRAHIM ABANI ( Niger) said the main challenge for his country was establishing a basis for sustainable socio-economic development. That was why Niger had begun in 2002 to put in place a poverty reduction strategy paper focused on accelerated development and poverty reduction with a view to turning the country into a modern, diversified economy. Niger had a long-term vision aimed at achieving the Millennium Development Goals, he said, adding that it also focused on regional synergy and the fight against poverty within the framework of NEPAD.
Describing the rural sector as the engine of economic growth, he said it had received particular attention from the Government, which planned to develop irrigation infrastructure and provide technology to farmers, in addition to advisory services and investment in rural areas. Measures were in place to strengthen food security, promote research and combat desertification, he said. The food and nutrition situation in Niger was among the most vulnerable in West Africa due in large part to recurring drought. Last year’s agricultural harvest ended with a deficient harvest in cereals, he said, thanking partners for their constant support for his country’s efforts to achieve the Millennium Goals.
ANNA DE LA VEGA ( Bolivia) said it was not appropriate to use GDP as an indicator in measuring sustainability, and called for indicators that would combine growth and harmony with nature. On the issue of food security, she affirmed the right of every human being to have access to healthy, nutritious foods, and the fundamental right not to go hungry, as expressed in the Rome Declaration.
The food crisis had been caused by price speculation, climate change, the use of food for biofuels, and the substitution of native food with foreign crops, she said. The notion of food security was complementary to that of food sovereignty, which did not deny the need for international trade, but rather defended a State’s option of making the best choices for its particular situation. Bolivia had submitted a draft resolution on the International Year of Quinoa, considered by the FAO to be “the cereal of the future”, she said, emphasizing also that in the twenty-first century, it was essential to guarantee the rights of Mother Earth.
FAHAZ BIN FAISAL ALSOUD ( Saudi Arabia) said his country was recognized by the FAO for its efforts in agricultural production and combating hunger and poverty. Saudi Arabia’s agricultural production had increased by 4.5 per cent this year, and reports and statistics predicted good results for its harvests. He noted the importance of food security, sustainable development and diversifying the production base.
Given the country’s lack of rivers, Saudi Arabia had launched an audacious experiment in irrigation to support rain-fed agriculture, he said. It had created 125 dams, one of many structural changes made to the agricultural sector between 1994 and 2009. While grain production had dropped from 4.8 million tons to 1.6 million tons, there had been an increase in the production of fruits and vegetables, to 2.7 million tons by the end of 2009, he said.
In terms of agricultural production, he said that at the end of 2009 Saudi Arabia had 14.2 million head of cattle, 93 million chickens, more than 3.4 million eggs and 96 million tons of fish. Agricultural production in 2009 was valued at $11.7 billion, an increase of 6.6 per cent. Describing that production as “very robust”, he said 7.1 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s labour force worked in the agricultural sector, and its food production would help overcome hunger.
PARK KWANG-SUK ( Republic of Korea) said considerable challenges demanded concerted international action and recognition of the five Rome Principles for Sustainable Global Food Security. The Republic of Korea attached great importance to those principles and underscored the need for a comprehensive approach to enhancing global food security. The country had allocated $10 million for the period 2009 to 2011 in efforts to correspond to the twin-track approach contained in the Comprehensive Framework for Action, he said, noting that part of that budget was channelled through the WFP for emergency food relief in regions chronically affected by hunger and malnutrition.
This year, the Korean International Cooperation Agency was working with 18 partner countries in implementing 29 rural and agricultural development projects, he continued. Moreover, the Republic of Korea had committed $50 million to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme. Without the backing of agricultural development, food security could not be sustained, he said, underscoring the importance of maintaining global momentum. As Chair of the upcoming G-20 Summit in Seoul, the Republic of Korea expected a concrete action plan for strengthening food security to be further developed there.
ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN ( Bangladesh), associating with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, noted that food insecurity persisted in the poorest countries. Every human being had an inherent right to food, and for the realization of that right, the massive underinvestment suffered by the agricultural sector must be redressed. Agricultural infrastructure must be developed, climate change must be dealt with, and responses to the financial crisis must address the needs of developing countries, he emphasized.
He said protectionism and the productivity gap between developed and developing countries must be addressed through trade talks, and developing countries should be allowed to preserve the flexibility needed to shield their smallholder farming sectors from competition. As for South-South cooperation, he proposed that countries like Bangladesh, which had good farmers, could cultivate some of the vast fallow lands in other developing countries. He urged the international community to provide countries like Bangladesh with high-yielding varieties of seeds that could withstand floods, drought, saline water and natural disasters, as well as the knowledge to utilize them.
PAULO JOSÉ CHIARELLI VICENTE DE AZEVEDO ( Brazil) said the overall food crisis had exposed the inadequacies of current institutions and highlighted the need for improved global food security. There were many inadequacies, including under-investment, lack of adequate technology and distortion of trade. Action in one area would not be enough without movement in all areas, and it was challenging to find ways in which different actors could coordinate their activities. To meet that challenge, the international community had the Committee on World Food Security, he said, welcoming the progress made in implementing the reform of that body, as agreed in 2009. Brazil looked forward to receiving the results of its last plenary meeting during the next session of the Economic and Social Council, he said.
Emphasizing that the Second Committee’s discussions should not duplicate those of the Rome agencies, he said access to safe and nutritious food was a human right and underscored the importance of South-South cooperation in improving agricultural production and food security. Brazil was sharing its experiences in that regard with many neighbouring Latin American countries, he said, adding that the use of degraded lands to expand agricultural production was an important part of development. He said the Secretary-General’s report discussed the use of biofuels and the impact of expanding their production, but it did not point out their important contribution in creating jobs and lifting people out of poverty, among other positive contributions. It was to be hoped that future reports would take those elements into account.
YANERIT MORGAN ( Mexico) said her country was ranked among the first 15 food-producing countries in the world but, like all other developing countries, it faced great challenges in satisfying internal demand. Mexico’s food security was a State matter requiring collective action, the elimination of market distortions, a review of financial mechanisms, proper technology transfer and productive policies that did not sacrifice the environment, she said, noting that the Government had prioritized a long-term vision for the agricultural sector in order to prepare for future food-production challenges.
Mexico had participated actively in improving the Rome System and had worked to fight hunger and food insecurity, she said. For that reason, it would be convenient to ensure greater complementarity and cooperation among international and regional organizations so as to avoid duplication of efforts and diversion of resources. Diverse initiatives to establish financial funds only scattered limited existing resources and did not consider the specific necessities of middle-income countries, she said, underlining also the need to prioritize proper technology transfer to developing countries as part of international cooperation. In conjunction with Central American countries and the Dominican Republic, Mexico had promoted the resolution on “Technological innovation and technical information to strengthen national strategies on food security,” she said.
XING JISHENG ( China) said the 2008 food crisis had been caused by a combination of factors and was closely linked to climate change, energy security and financial security. It, therefore, required a comprehensive solution. Agricultural inputs must be increased, grain production improved and overall balance struck and maintained between rain supply and demand, he stressed.
Developed countries and international organizations should provide assistance to developing countries in such areas as financing, technology and market- and capacity-building, he said. Institutional reform and improved governance systems were necessary to make global food production, storage and distribution more equitable and sustainable. In that regard, China favoured a global system to safeguard food security and a positive conclusion of the Doha Round negotiations in order to achieve fair, equitable, stable and sustainable international trade in agricultural products.
He said his country had resolutely pursued a policy of food self-sufficiency, which now stood at a rate above 95 per cent. China had also provided development assistance and had, since 2009, exported 551,000 tons of food to countries in Asia and Africa that faced food shortages. It had donated $6.5 million to the WFP and pledged $30 million to the FAO Trust Fund. China would also dispatch 3,000 agricultural experts to other developing countries and enhance cooperation with them in agricultural planning, hybrid rice, aquaculture, farmland water conservancy and agricultural machinery, within the framework of South-South cooperation, he said.
ABDOURAHMANE TRAORE ( Senegal) said the Millennium Development Goals Summit outcome document was not very promising in terms of the world’s progress in achieving the first objective — halving the number of hungry people by 2015. One billion people were still suffering from hunger, particularly in Africa, he noted, welcoming international initiatives, under the aegis of the United Nations, to improve world food security. Entities such as IFAD, the Global Task Force on Food Security, the New Vision for Agriculture, and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa were just a few of the frameworks that could reduce hunger, he said.
To reverse declining trends of financing for food security and sustainable development, endogenous initiatives should be taken in each country or region, he said. Senegal had undertaken a major agricultural offensive based on sustainable rural development and sustainable and modern agriculture. It had enabled the country to make significant progress in food self-sufficiency, cereal production and other areas. He warned that the food crisis could continue if agricultural subsidies and trade protectionism persisted, and called for a holistic approach to address the root causes of the food crisis. Food-price hikes and demographic growth must be addressed, he emphasized, calling on the world community to act for Africa, where the rate of hunger exceeded 30 per cent.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ ( Chile) underscored the importance of initiatives in the area of agricultural development and food security, including the 2005 Hunger-Free Latin America and Caribbean Initiative and the Committee on World Food Security. There was a need to enhance capacity and market access for small- and medium-scale farmers in developing countries by promoting and ensuring access to credit. Moreover, there was an urgent need to make cross-cutting gender considerations for the rural world.
He stressed that when addressing the causes of the food crisis, States must not forget that each fell into a hierarchy of impact. Without fairer international trade, it would not be possible to stimulate the investment need to feed the more than 9 billion people in the world by 2015. In closing, he stressed that unless the international community addressed and tackled the issue of malnutrition in women and small children — what the WFP called the “hidden hunger” — the world would pay the consequences for many years to come.
LILA RATSIFANDRIHAMANANA, Director, Food and Agriculture Organization Liaison Office, said that The State of Food Insecurity, released by the FAO and the WFP in September indicated a decrease from 1.2 billion to 925 million hungry people in 2010. That marked an improvement, but it was still far from the target set at the 1996 World Food Summit of halving the number of hungry by 2025. Of those 925 million hungry people, more than 166 million in 22 countries suffered from chronic hunger as a result of protracted crisis and required targeted assistance with a focus not only on emergency aid, but also on long-term measures to improve agricultural production and productivity, she said.
She noted that the thirty-sixth session of the Committee on Food Security — the first meeting of the reformed body — had taken place in Rome two weeks ago, addressing issues of food insecurity in protracted crises, land tenure and international investment in agriculture, and managing vulnerability and risk to promote better food security and nutrition. With respect to the volatility of food commodity markets in years ahead, she said measures should be taken to ensure greater market stability, including improved regulation of markets, greater market transparency, an appropriate level of emergency stocks and efficient international trade in food products. That issue would be addressed at the Pre-Conference Meeting on agriculture and food security organized by FAO, to be held on 16 December in New York, she said, adding that it was widely known that under-investment in agriculture was the core reason for the sector’s underdevelopment, and that ODA alone was not sufficient to produce the food needed for a world population expected to exceed 9 billion in 2050.
JANE STEWART, Special Representative to the United Nations and Director, International Labour Organization New York Office, said access to productive employment, social protection, basic labour rights and social dialogue was the key to facilitating access to food and building food security strategies, which must address both agricultural and non-farm sectors in a mutually reinforcing manner. The estimated one third of agricultural produce that went to waste in some developing countries showed that there were severe “missed opportunities” in that area.
In that light, she said, farmers must be viewed as “agrarian entrepreneurs” in developing strategies and interventions, and supported with the necessary structural components, such as investment, technology and access to land and other assets. Employment opportunities, as well as high child labour, the particular problems of women and youth, insufficient social dialogue and other factors must be addressed to give rural employers and workers a voice in national and international forums. Decent work deficits impeded individuals, communities and countries from breaking out of the trap of low productivity, insecurity, poverty and vulnerability, she said.
GEORGE ASSAF, Director and Representative to the United Nations, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, said the complexity of hunger and malnutrition called for multidisciplinary responses. UNIDO could help make a difference, as demonstrated in its Africa Agro-Industry and Agribusiness Development Initiative, a joint programme with FAO and IFAD launched earlier this year. The partnership was premised on the notion that developing agriculture did not merely equate with raising agricultural input. It also called for a holistic process of rural transformation, firmly inserting growers and cattle herders into the food value chain, making smallholder farming a modern enterprise, and addressing the pressing needs of adequate technology and organization.
Noting that three quarters of Africa’s undernourished drew their livelihoods from smallholder farms, he said they needed help in developing the means to meet their own needs. UNIDO had expertise in food-processing technology, rural entrepreneurship development, and organizing supply chains and markets. In terms of climate change, sustainable agriculture could help mitigate its impact, he said, noting that alternative crops could offer significant prospects of carbon sequestration, while attendant certificates of emission reduction were a new source of income for farmers under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism, another area of proven UNIDO expertise. The agency’s expertise in resource-efficient and cleaner production ensured that increased output, notably in the livestock sector, did not result in biological and chemical pollution in downstream processing activities, he said.
Right of Reply
The representative of Iran, pointing out that the term “Persian Gulf” had been used as a standard to describe the body of water between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula, said United Nations practice over the past 50 years had made it clear that that term was the only applicable one. Any use of fabricated names for that body of water other than “Persian Gulf” was “totally groundless and unacceptable”, he asserted.
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