Friday, 24 June 2011

G20 action plan fails to address root causes hunger

According to CIDSE, the catholic development network, the G20 Agricultural Ministers’ Action Plan on Food Price Volatility and Agriculture contributes little to tackling global hunger. The alliance says the plan is more concerned with mitigating the consequences of price volatility than with addressing its root causes. It is “a band aid for a big gaping wound; it won’t cure the ailing global food system,” as Gisele Henriques, CIDSE’s food expert said. “Although the recent spike in commodity prices has worsened the situation, we should not forget that even before the 2008 food price crisis there were over 800 million hungry. We must look beyond the markets for an answer to this injustice.”

The action plan, which has been significantly diluted during the negotiations on 22-23 June in Paris, aims at improving agricultural production, increasing market information and transparency, strengthening international policy coordination, improving and developing risk management tools for governments, firms and farmers, as well as improving the functioning of agricultural commodities’ derivatives markets. G20 Agricultural Ministers propose the establishment of emergency food stocks, necessary to address food crises, ignoring regulatory stocks which could resolve food price volatility in the mid-term. CIDSE urges the G20 to support the re-establishment of regulatory stocks, at local, national and regional levels, which would help curb the excessive volatility in prices for both consumers and producers. Yet matters of financial regulation of the food markets agricultural ministers left to their fellow financial ministers and central bank governors.

CIDSE emphasises that current production models must be reconsidered. A recent report by the UN Special Representative on the Right to Food demonstrates that agro-ecological innovations can double production in a period of 3 to 10 years and it is precisely this kind of production model that must be supported. This also means creating food policies which strengthen local production by small holder farmers, because they account for 75% of the world’s hungry. The G20 also failed to take serious its own inter-agency report on price volatility. This report, coordinated by the FAO and the OECD, underlines the negative role of biofuels on price volatility and recommends a rethink of policies which incentivise biofuels, adopted by many G20 States members. “The poor progress made at the Paris meeting confirms once more that the G20 is not the most legitimate forum to pre-determine decisions on global food security. It should reinforce more democratic multilateral bodies such as the FAO’s Committee on World Food Security instead,” said Henriques.

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