“Agriculture faces dual challenges: becoming more sustainable on a dwindling resource base while having to feed an increasing number of people,” Paul Polman, CEO of consumer goods company Unilever, and David Servitje, CEO of baking company Group Bimbo, who serve as co-chairs of the G20’s B-20 Food Security Task Force, write in a Washington Post opinion piece, adding, “To provide food and nutrition security in the coming decades will require a major and sustained effort by all stakeholders, including business.” They continue, “The good news is that food security is firmly on the political agenda of the Group of Eight, the Group of 20 and at this week’s U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). And business has been invited to contribute.”
Food Security and Nutrition
With “the highest level of chronic malnutrition after Afghanistan, affecting 60 percent of under fives,” Yemen is facing levels of acute malnutrition that are equal to or worse than those in Africa’s Horn or Sahel, UNICEF’s Yemen representative Geert Cappelaere said on Friday in London, AlertNet reports. “If you don’t do anything about these incredible high levels of malnutrition, in the short term you may have more and more children dying. In the long term, the cost of inaction for a country like Yemen may be up to $1.5 billion a year,” he said. According to AlertNet, “The figure comes from a World Bank estimate that the cost of failing to address malnutrition could be 2-3 percent of a country’s GDP.” Cappelaere “said that in some areas it had almost nothing to do with access to food, but rather to lack of access to drinking water or sanitation. He said bringing down malnutrition levels would require integrated investment in water, sanitation, nutrition, education, and health,” the news service writes (Batha, 6/15).
“The new U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, which is derived from a Presidential Policy Directive, builds on numerous accomplishments of U.S.-Africa policy to strengthen democratic institutions, promote regional peace and security, engage with young African leaders, and promote development, trade, and investment,” a White House fact sheet, titled “Obama Administration Accomplishments In Sub-Saharan Africa,” states. The fact sheet contains information on the Feed the Future initiative, the Global Health Initiative, the U.S. Government’s responses to humanitarian crises and disasters, as well as other programs and engagements (6/14).
Discussing the meeting of G20 leaders taking place this week in Los Cabos, Mexico, the Financial Times states, “Food security, long only a concern for aid advocates and farming ministers, is now hotly debated among G20 leaders.” Though food prices have stabilized recently, they are much higher than in the past, causing widespread food insecurity and leading to about one billion chronically hungry people worldwide, the newspaper notes. The “initial reaction” of the G20, and the G8, was to supply emergency food aid, “[b]ut as the era of high food prices appears to be here to stay, the focus of the G20 is slowly shifting from fighting the emergency to addressing the long-term problem,” the Financial Times writes.
Writing in a commentary on the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) webpage, Ambassador William Garvelink, a senior adviser with the CSIS Project on U.S. Leadership in Development, and Kristin Wedding, a fellow with the CSIS Global Food Security Project, examine the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, an initiative that “aims to move 50 million people out of poverty over the next decade through agricultural growth and development.” “While the goal is to be applauded, notably absent from the New Alliance is the key role that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) play in implementing and delivering solutions, often to the populations who need it most,” they state. Noting the importance of private sector involvement, they conclude, “One hopes that the G20 will discuss food security in a more robust way than the G8, with a more comprehensive, whole-of-community approach to reducing food insecurity and malnutrition and recognize the critical role of NGOs in this most important endeavor” (6/14).
U.N. Food And Agriculture Agencies Urge G20 To Increase Efforts To Fight Hunger; G20 Launches AgResults Initiative
As G20 leaders wrapped up their meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, on Tuesday, the U.N. food and agriculture agencies — the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) — issued a joint statement “call[ing] on them to redouble their efforts to fight hunger” and “welcom[ing] the priority given to food and nutrition security at the summit,” the U.N. News Centre reports. The agencies “noted that food security is closely linked to other issues on the agenda of G20 — such as infrastructure development and restoring growth in countries in crisis” — and emphasized the role of partnerships in improving food security, according to the news agency. The “agencies also welcomed the continuing recognition by the G20 of the pivotal role of smallholder agriculture to global food security and to boosting productivity in a sustainable manner,” the news agency writes (6/19).
The Washington Post provides highlights from the Washington Post Live “Future of Food: Food Security in the 21st Century” summit that was held on June 14 and “attracted many of the best minds devoted to solving the problem of feeding the worldâ€™s ever-growing population.” According to the newspaper, “As a wrap-up to ‘Food Security in the 21st Century,’ Washington Post Live has published a special section today devoted to some original essays and stories as well as highlights from the summit itself.” The section includes articles, videos, and a summary of tweets addressing the summit, the newspaper notes (Carman, 6/19).
In this Bloomberg Businessweek opinion piece, Charles Kenny, a fellow at the Center for Global Development and the New America Foundation, examines the global obesity epidemic, writing, “It may seem strange to be worried about too much food when the United Nations suggests that, as the planet’s population continues to expand, about one billion people may still be undernourished,” but “[g]rowing obesity in poorer countries is a sign of a historic global tipping point.” He continues, “After millennia when the biggest food-related threat to humanity was the risk of having too little, the 21st century is one where the fear is having too much.”
IRIN examines efforts to tackle malnutrition amid increased food insecurity in Chad. “Like in the rest of the Sahel region, a mix of drought, poor rains and harvests as well as rising food prices have resulted in food insecurity and subsequent malnutrition,” the news service writes, noting, “Chad’s ‘embryonic’ economy is among factors limiting the local diversity of food sources and income, notes USAID’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), adding that sociocultural care practices and poor health systems are also to blame.”
Global Food Prices Rise 10% In July; World Bank President Says Increase Threatens Health Of Millions
“The World Bank said Thursday that drought in the U.S. and Eastern Europe crop centers sent global food prices soaring by 10 percent last month, raising a food security threat to the world’s poorest people,” Agence France-Presse reports (8/30). “From June to July, corn and wheat prices rose by 25 percent each, soybean prices by 17 percent, and only rice prices went down, by four percent, the World Bank said,” according to Reuters, which adds, “Overall, the World Bank’s Food Price Index, which tracks the price of internationally traded food commodities, was six percent higher than in July of last year, and one percent over the previous peak of February 2011” (8/30).