FAO e-Consultation on Hunger, Food and Nutrition Security
What do you see as the key lessons learned during the current Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Framework (1990-2015), in particular in relation to the MDGs of relevance to hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition?
What do you consider the main challenges and opportunities towards achieving food and nutrition security in the coming years?
It has been recognized that progress on the MDG 1.C (halving the proportion of people suffering from hunger between 1990-2015) is hampered in several countries. The MDG’s are centred on results; however, to achieve a long term improvement on the indicators, it is imperative that the objectives are enshrined in sound policies that aim at and support food sovereignty and food security. There is need for a change in agriculture, trade and social policies because the current national and regional policies and international agreements produce contradictory effects on the progress towards food sovereignty and food security. Policies, especially in the fields of agriculture and trade, need to be tuned to the attainment of food security and food sovereignty. Industrialised countries have to ensure coherence in their policies affecting developing countries so that these policies are not impeding the achievement of food security and food sovereignty. A change of policies is thus essential to achieve improvements on food sovereignty.
Future approaches should focus on a change in policies, so that policies in different sectors do not have a negative impact on food security and food sovereignty. Improving food sovereignty implies improving the global trade and finance system. Food prices have been driven up by numerous factors in recent years such as food speculation, increased demand for food and biofuels and lack of food reserves. This has a devastating impact on poor consumers, which use a significant part of their income for food. The current WTO-system leaves very little policy space for developing countries to devise and implement policies related to food security and food sovereignty. A future challenge is the elimination of such constraints that affect food security and food sovereignty.
The progressive deregulation of the financial commodity market has given rise to speculation on food, which contributes to the rise of the world food prices. High world food prices prevent the access of the poor to their Right to adequate food. Therefore financial markets should be regulated to prevent speculation on food.
The elimination of export subsidies and other kinds of subsidies that affect food sovereignty and food security in developing countries should be a priority within the WTO, because they have a devastating effect on the food security and food sovereignty of family farmers.
In developing countries, family farmers occupy a central role in ensuring access to food for them, their families and the local community. In developing countries agriculture is the most important source of employment and of livelihoods for rural populations. Increasing the production levels of family farming, by improving family farmers’ access to land and credit, improves the livelihoods of rural households, which is vital in ensuring food security and food sovereignty in developing countries.
African countries committed themselves to dedicate 10% of their national budgets to agriculture. The FAO could be instrumental in helping countries to overcome their budgetary constraints in order to fulfil this commitment. The challenge lies in ensuring that family farmers are the first beneficiaries of such policies.
An ecological sustainable food production system will require an elimination of unsuitable modes of production, like for example the industrial agriculture and large scale land grabbing investments, which affect negatively the food sovereignty and the right to food of local communities in developing nations and provoke displacements of local communities. Policies that promote such investments should be changed in the light of the negative effects they produce for developing nations and their communities.
3. The FAO Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security are an opportunity if they are transformed into a legally binding framework.
The underlying purpose the FAO Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security is to achieve food security and food sovereignty for all. However, to ensure a change in policy aimed at the purpose of food security and food sovereignty, these guidelines should become legally binding for companies and governments. The principle of extra-territorial jurisdiction should also be developed and enforced by national judicial systems.
In many developing countries, however, the effective implementation of these guidelines, in particular concerning the access to land for family farmers, is being hindered by large-scale land grabs. A 5-year moratorium on land grabbing would allow developing countries to achieve a simplified land reform ensuring family farmers of the rights on the land they cultivate and to transpose the FAO Guidelines into their national laws. Such an option could be discussed at the Committee on World Food Security.
What works best? Drawing on existing knowledge, please tell us how we should go about addressing the hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition challenges head on.
Provide us with your own experiences and insights. For example, how important are questions of improved governance, rights-based approaches, accountability and political commitment in achieving food and nutrition security?
Furthermore, how could we best draw upon current initiatives, including the Zero Hunger Challenge, launched by the UN Secretary General at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (www.zerohungerchallenge.org), and the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition elaborated by the CFS?
Governance and accountability mechanisms for responsible investment in agriculture should be in place. The FAO Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security should become legally binding for companies and governments. The principle of extra-territorial jurisdiction should be developed and enforced by national judicial systems.
For the Post-2015 Global Development Framework to be complete, global (and regional or national) objectives, targets and indicators will be identified towards tackling hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. A set of objectives has been put forward by the UN Secretary-General under Zero Hunger Challenge (ZHC):
a. 100% access to adequate food all year round
b. Zero stunted children less than 2 years old.
c. All food systems are sustainable
d. 100% increase in smallholder productivity and income
e. Zero loss or waste of food.
Please provide us with your feedback on the above list of objectives – or provide your own proposals. Should some objectives be country-specific, or regional, rather than global? Should the objectives be time-bound?
The objectives are clear but what is needed is that they are backed by policies that fully support Food Sovereignty and Food Security and that would allow the achievement of these objectives.
a. Access to credit and to inputs, and improved storage conditions for family farmers are vital to reach this objective. The lack of credit obliges family farmers to sell most of their production at the moment of harvest, because they need the money to repay the inputs and to cover family needs. When they run out of food, they have to buy it at a higher price during the dry season what often obliges them to contract a debt. Access to credit will prevent them from losing money in this process of selling food and then buying it. Improved storage conditions would prevent the spoilage of food and this would reduce family farmers’ need of buying food at a high price during the dry season. Mechanisms should be devised to allow financially strained family farmers in developing countries to buy inputs and to access credit. A minimum price policy should be in place in order to ensure decent living conditions for family farmers. This objective should be country-specific as climate factors differ from country to country, e.g. a lower than average rainy season has significant impact on the harvest.
c. Family farmers are essential in the pathway towards sustainable food production that leads to food sovereignty. They are the ones ensuring livelihoods for themselves and their families. A sustainable food production system would allow the rural poor to enjoy the Right to adequate food. Additionally, a sustainable food production system would allow family farmers to use and to conserve their natural resources and to gain a sufficient income from their production. Food production systems should also be environmentally sustainable, drawing on sustainable techniques and methods, e.g. traditional agricultural methods.
Existing local traditional agricultural systems provide a balanced method for local communities to deal with challenges such as feeding people, pressures on livelihoods and biodiversity, sustainable use of natural resources, regeneration of the soils and climate change. Such agricultural systems are appropriate to local economies and societies drawing on indigenous knowledge of the eco-system.
d. Improving rural infrastructure for family farmers is essential to reach this objective. Adequate irrigation systems, mechanisms providing access to inputs, adequate food storage conditions, and transport and distribution systems need to be put in place. The proposals from the report “Agriculture at a crossroads” of the International Assessment of Agriculture Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development go in this direction and they recognize the vital importance of traditional and local agricultural knowledge. While the proposals of the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa are tuned to the needs of the agro-food industry and not the those of family farmers.
e. Adequate food storage and transport mechanisms should be put in place to prevent great loss of food. Especially, in rural areas storage conditions should be improved. Food is often lost due to bad storage quality. Furthermore, sustainable transport and distribution chains should equally be established to prevent the loss of food and food spoilage.
This thematic discussion was led by FAO and WFP in collaboration with “The World We Want”.
The consultation was facilitated by the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)