Urgent investment needed in food: Global think tank

Posted by Editorial on 17th April 2009

The recently established Humboldt Forum for Food and Agriculture has urged the immediate adoption of a five-point plan of action, entitled “Food First”, to counter concerns about food security and global malnutrition.

According to the Forum, agricultural productivity growth has fallen from around 4 per cent annually in the 1960s to about one per cent each year today, due largely to an ongoing decline in agricultural research investment.

Meanwhile, they predict that the price of food will continue to increase as the world’s population and per capita food consumption will continue to grow, while limited land, water and other resources combine with the impact of global warming to increasingly constrain growth in global food production.

High prices for fossil fuel and other sources of energy will also have a major impact on food prices.

Stressing the need for immediate action, the Forum warned that the world’s political and business leaders must return to the basics and invest in agricultural innovation as a key priority, particularly during the current global economic crisis. Otherwise, the world faces an even more uncertain future with food shortages likely to worsen and expand to the developed world, leading to increased inflation, political and economic instability as well as social unrest.

Key recommendations include the establishment of an A25 – an International Monitoring Board; the return of global agricultural innovation to the political agenda; a renewed commitment to invest in agriculture of developing countries; the creation of new funding and the reallocation of existing resources; and an acknowledgement that food and bio-energy can co-exist.