Food and Nutrition Security should stay high on agenda at G20 Meetings – IFPRI

Food and Nutrition Security must remain the top agenda for discussions as G20 leaders prepare to meet in Los Cabos, Mexico, next week, Mr Shenggen Fan, Director General, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), said on Friday.

He noted that food and nutrition security had been a problem and would become even more difficult due to the growing complexity of global challenges, such as population growth, increasing consumer demand from the growing middle class in developing countries, high and volatile food prices, energy scarcity, and climate change.

Severe food and nutrition insecurity continues to persist, the key drivers behind the food crises in 2007/08 and 2011 have not been resolved, and the current global economic crisis is further worsening the situation.

“Against this worrisome background, development aid from donors dropped for the first time in 15 years, falling by three per cent from 2010 to 2011,” he added.

Mr Fan made the observation in a release issued by IFPRI and copied to Ghana News Agency in Accra.

He cited the 2011 Global Hunger Index, which stated that more than 50 countries were experiencing “extremely alarming,” “alarming,” or “serious” levels of hunger; Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia continued to be hunger hot spots.

Last year’s G20 Summit led to important actions in strengthening global food security efforts and resolving problems related to price spikes and volatility.

Out of these actions, one that has shown progress is the creation of Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS), which includes indicators such as the Excessive Food Price Variability Warning System developed by IFPRI and the Rapid Response Forum (RRF).

The release explained that progress had been slow on most of the other actions citing the Agricultural Price Risk Management tool had not shown significant progress and only the Agricultural Price Risk Management (APRM) + Platform on Agricultural Risk Management (PARM) , which had been launched but it still needed validation as examples.

“No clear action has been taken with regard to other risk-coping tools. Similarly, there has not been significant progress on financial regulation and the regional humanitarian reserves pilot,” it said.

The release asked this year’s G20 to take additional steps to reinforce food price volatility by addressing structural problems and responding to long-term drivers of food security.

Priority actions should include assuring the implementation of the action plan of 2011 by reducing the competition between food and fuel, promoting free and open trade to calm food markets, and supporting regional humanitarian food reserves to address food emergencies.

“G20 leaders should continue to emphasise innovative partnerships to address food security issues, including strengthening the engagement of non-State actors, especially the private sector, in global food security efforts.  In addition, the G20 is an opportunity to engage with emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China as they increase their role in global policymaking, especially in forging South–South cooperation”.

While price volatility is still an issue, this year, there is a strong focus on increasing food production and productivity, promoting food security, and fostering economic growth in a sustainable manner.

G20 leaders should focus on productivity and assuring sustainability, by examining agricultural research and development and crop yield stagnation.

Scaled-up investments in science and technology and support for improved country capacities are fundamental to accelerating progress and achieving development objectives.

Technological innovations such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, and bio fortification, are crucial to increasing agricultural productivity, building resilience to weather-related shocks, enhancing the nutritional value of food crops, and ensuring food safety.

Similarly, significant efforts should be made to improve access to inputs such as improved seeds and fertilizer.

IFPRI recommended to the G20 policymakers to speed up progress on action-plan items from previous G20 meetings and develop clear accountability indicators; invest in agricultural research and development and improve farmers’ access to improved seeds and fertilizer, improve information to better prioritize needed investment to increase sustainable agricultural productivity and enable a positive environment in which to increase and link private and public investments in agriculture and encourage mutual accountability between governments, the public and private sectors, and civil society.

Source: GNA

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