Creating a sustainable food system

Posted by James Ferre on 21st May 2009

Policies enacted by the United States and the European Union, and pushed through global institutions during the last several decades, laid the ground for the ongoing food crisis, according to a new report by CIDSE, an international alliance of Catholic development agencies, and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP).

Nearly 1 billion people are currently suffering from hunger around the world, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has reported, as they look to work with developed economies to help find a solution to concerns over food sustainability.

The report identified the convergence of the food, economic and climate crises as indicators that call into question the viability of existing models of food production and consumption. Neglected agriculture programs, ill-advised economic adjustment policies, commodity speculation and unjust trade rules were suggested to have led to a vulnerable global food system.

The report proclaimed a need for a number of changes to policy, which would include empowering small-holder farmers and generating more sustainable food production. Measures to address food price volatility were discussed, with food reserves and tighter regulation on speculators considered paramount in this quest.

EU support
Last week, the EU announced that they would enhance their support for FAO’s work into ensuring global food security, with a historic €106 million (A$189 million) donation in support of farmers hardest hit by the global food crisis.

The FAO believed the signing of the assistance package to ten countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean who suffered most from the 2007-2008 food price crisis is a major boost to efforts to turn the tide of worsening food security, expected to deteriorate even further this year as the financial and economic crisis deepens in developing countries.

“This is the biggest agreement ever signed between the EC and FAO,” said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf. “We are extremely pleased that in these times of turmoil, Europe shows an unwavering commitment to the plight of around one billion people who go to bed hungry every night.”

Mr Diouf added that even though international food commodity prices have gone down recently, high and volatile food prices continue to plague developing countries.