In a seven-point recommendation, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has tasked the G20 group of twenty finance ministers and central bank governors currently meeting at Los Cabos, Mexico, to speed up progress on action-plan items from previous G-20 meetings and develop clear accountability indicators.
The institute has also asked the purse holders of the world’s leading economies and their leaders, to keep food and nutrition security at the top of the agenda of current and future G-20 meetings, invest in agricultural research and development and improve farmers’ access to improved seeds and fertiliser.
IFPRI further requested the group of 20 leaders to improve information to better prioritise needed investment to increase sustainable agricultural productivity, avoid excessive market speculation by providing more timely, accurate information on food prices, stocks and production and increase the availability of weather information to improve the capacity of appropriate early warning mechanisms to climate shocks and to increase the availability of weather index insurance suppliers.
The G-20 has also been charged to 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.
Meanwhile IFPRI’s Director General, Shenggen Fan, has also push for food and nutrition security to remain high on the agenda as G-20 leaders in the a presentation he made at in Mexico this week.
He said according to the 2011 Global Hunger Index, more than 50 countries are experiencing “extremely alarming,” “alarming,” or “serious” levels of hunger, while Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia continue to be hunger hot spots.
The IFPRI boss warned world leaders that “Ensuring food and nutrition security will 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.”
He added: “Against this worrisome background, development aid from donors dropped for the first time in 15 years, falling by 3 percent from 2010 to 2011.”
Nonetheless, recounting a bright spot in all the gloom in world food security, Fan said last year’s G-20 Summit led to important actions in strengthening global food security efforts and resolving problems related to price spikes and volatility.
“Of these actions, one that has shown progress is the creation of the 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),” he said.
“However, progress has been slow on most of the other actions. For example, the Agricultural Price Risk Management tool has not shown significant progress and only the Agricultural Price Risk Management (APRM) + Platform on Agricultural Risk Management (PARM) has been launched but it still needs validation, and no clear action has been taken with regard to other risk-coping tools” he added.
According to Fan, similarly, there has not been significant progress on financial regulation and the regional humanitarian reserves pilot. He thus impressed on the world leaders to take additional steps to rein in 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,” he charged the G-20 group.
“G-20 leaders should also 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 G-20 is an opportunity to engage with emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China as they increase their role in global policy-making, especially in forging South–South cooperation,” he stated further.
The IFPRI Director General said while price volatility is still an issue, there is also a strong focus on increasing food production and productivity, promoting food security, and fostering economic growth in a sustainable manner this year and so charged G-20 leaders to focus on productivity and assuring sustainability, by examining agricultural research and development and crop yield stagnation.
Also emphasising that scaled-up investments in science and technology and support for improved country capacities are fundamental to accelerating progress and achieving development objectives Fan said 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.
He added that similarly, significant efforts should be made to improve the access to inputs such as improved seeds and fertiliser.
Countries belonging to the G-20 are the United States of America, Germany, Japan, China, Australia, India, Argentina, France, Canada, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Mexico, Italy, Turkey, the United Kingdom, South Korea and the European Union.