Kofi Annan sets out vision to fight global hunger

Kofi Annan

Former UN Secretary-General and Chairman of Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) Kofi Annan on Friday outlined how food security for the world’s poorest can be achieved by reforming global food systems.

In a speech delivered at Caritas International’s annual conference in Vienna, Mr Annan called for improved coordination of food and nutrition programmes to strengthen the world’s food and nutrition security.

He warned that after decades when the overall price of food fell and the number of people going hungry declined, this trend had now been reversed – food prices were increasing and millions of people were being pushed into abject poverty.

A statement issued by AGRA in Accra said the speech was delivered on Mr Annan’s behalf by Dr Tesfai Tecle, Special Adviser to the Chairman of AGRA.

Mr Annan outlined three areas for major structural reforms: Improving global governance and overhauling unfair trade rules to deliver a more powerful voice for developing countries in global decision-making bodies; Significantly increasing agricultural investment – including for research –in developing countries, encouraging greater private sector engagement and ensuring continued support from richer countries; and Increasing investment in small-holder farmers, in particular women farmers, through providing access to credit, markets and the latest knowledge in farming practices.

In improving global governance and overhauling unfair trade ruled, Mr Annan states: “Though I am pleased that African leaders were invited to last month’s G8 at Camp David to talk about food security, developing countries need a permanent seat at the table.

“Trade restrictions which distort the markets and put the poorest at a disadvantage must be swept away. I believe a financial transactions tax could be used to help curb excessive speculation while raising money for development and climate change finance.”

Referring to significantly increasing agricultural investment, he says: “We need as well to increase research into new crops and techniques which focus on the challenges of farmers and farming in the developing world. This must include how we can use new crop varieties and managing water so harvests can be increased and land helped to stay productive despite climate change. Too often the interests of the developing world are overshadowed by the needs of large farming enterprises in the developed world.”

On his third area of increasing investment in small-holder farmers, Mr Annan says:“We must invest, in people and particularly in the small-holder farmers who remain the backbone of agricultural production.

“We need to give them access to the latest knowledge, increased support and credit to create fair markets so they can sell their surpluses at a fair price. This must also include women farmers who make up the majority but face the greatest barriers and disadvantage. Food production simply can’t be increased at the speed and scale needed in a sustainable way without mobilising this army of small-holders. If we do, not only will they transform food production, but their efforts will provide a springboard for wider economic development.”

Mr Annan called for action, optimism and entrepreneurship to solve these issues, and for the rediscovery of common values and purpose to help the world’s weakest and most vulnerable citizens.

He expressed hope that the Rio+20 Conference would lead to the adoption and implementation of policies needed for sustainable development and a more equitable world.

Source: GNA

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