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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum

Re: Examining the linkages between trade and food security: What is your experience?

Ekaterina Krivonos

I would like to respond to Christian Häberli. Certainly one can be too diplomatic, in part that comes from the experience of dealing with sometimes very sensitive issues through interaction with governments. In that context, how you phrase things becomes quite important. In this particular case, however, I was not trying to reconcile irreconcilable trade stances, but merely pointing out that trade can be beneficial for food security, but not trade alone: A lot of the work has to be done at the country level first.

The  "holistic food value chain approach" was borrowed from the commentary by Dennis, who advocated addressing the multiple challenges that farmers face as part of a value chain. He has a very strong point. If governments (but also international organizations, donors, NGOs) focus only on production – which in fact occurs in many projects – ignoring marketing and logistics bottlenecks, these investments would be lost or could even make matters worse locally (consider local prices dropping in case of oversupply if farmers are given seeds and technology to produce more than usual and without a proper outlet to other markets).

At the other extreme, introducing trade reforms, or changes in the way market functions (e.g. withdrawal from state trading or changing the rules for domestic marketing or export procedures), or, say, assisting cooperatives in setting up export operations – all that without having the necessary volumes of production or products of certain quality – is also a completely lost effort. I have seen this in many countries, and I am sure you have too. Hence, very loosely, I called it a “holistic” approach, meaning that if we want the agricultural sector (or food security, not the same thing, sure) to benefit from trade, the whole chain needs to be considered.