Mr. Gianfranco Carloni, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

The intricate links between the production of food, its distribution and the raw materials necessary for feeding the world are at the core of my concerns and those of the world business organization, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), and a variety of international sectoral associations for whom I am speaking today. The expression `private sector' in this statement is used to describe all business elements in the food chain from individual and family farms, cooperative enterprises, right through to multi-national corporations.

As business groups, our fundamental position is that to feed a global population projected to be 50 percent higher in 30 years time will require technological innovation and sounder management of scarce resources such as land and water. The best way to achieve this is to allow market forces to encourage investment, innovation and good management; and to enable price mechanisms to signal where business activity and international trade can raise productivity most efficiently.

Expanding global food production to productivity advances in the agricultural sector is, however, only part of the solution for large parts of the developing world where hunger is a consequence of poverty. Here the bigger challenge is to raise productivity across all sectors of the economy - to create jobs and raise living standards so that people can afford to buy more food with higher nutritional levels. We are conscious that the challenge of eradicating poverty and hunger is not only a question of technology, but is linked to the distribution of resources and income, access to markets and trade and suitable conditions for social, political and economic development.

The agri-food sector has followed the general trend in which public investment has diminished while private investment has increased. In order for the private sector to meet this larger and growing responsibility it is necessary for governments to create legal and institutional frameworks conducive to private sector activities. Security of land tenure, protection of intellectual property rights, availability of credit for rural development, a favourable investment and regulatory climate, and expeditious customs procedures are just some examples of required conditions where government action can have a positive impact on the capacity of the private sector to contribute to food security. All governments must make a clear commitment to open, well-functioning markets, an enabling framework for the dissemination of safe technology in agriculture and food production, and science-based food quality standards.

We face the following key food security challenges:

· One: starvation and malnutrition persist despite the increases in food production achieved in the last decades;

· Two: the global rate of population growth continues to accelerate while the total area for cultivation is limited. Indeed, if we consider the effects of such factors as urbanization, desertification and soil erosion available land is declining and water for irrigation is becoming scarcer.

· Three: rising incomes in many parts of the world are changing patterns of food consumption.

· Business fully recognizes that it has a major responsibility in facing up to these challenges. That is why we have entitled this statement: "Getting down to business".

· The private sector will continue to assume a growing role in research and development including basic agricultural research, training and technology transfer;

· We shall strive to raise agricultural productivity by investing to improve plant varieties, seeds, biotechnology, plant nutrition, crop protection, animal health and farm management;

· We shall also play our part in raising the efficiency of food processing, storage and distribution;

· Finally, we will aim for better communication and co-ordination among the various sectors of the food chain.

I wish to end by underlining that the private sector is not just an interested party alongside many others in this issue of food security. It is the key actor, and increasingly so, in ensuring that food is produced and distributed in an economic way in response to consumer demand. We are therefore ready to cooperate with FAO, the World Bank and other key international agencies in the promotion of market-oriented solutions. As such we are a vital and willing partner of government in raising agricultural productivity and food production, and thus helping eradicate hunger.

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