6 June 2009, St Petersburg/Russia - FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf called today for a strengthened global governance system for world food security. Those aspects of the international trade system that have resulted in more hunger and poverty also have to be changed, he said.
“We have to build a more coherent and effective system of governance for world food security; we have to correct the policies and international trade system that have resulted in more hunger and poverty,” said Diouf.
He made the call at the opening session of the World Grain Forum that opened today in St Petersburg, the Russian Federation, which is being attended by agriculture ministers and officials from more than 50 countries.
President Dmitry Anatolievitch Medvedev is also attending the important meeting on global food security and the international grain market that was first proposed by the Russian Federation at the G8 summit in Japan last July.
Time for action
“What is important today is to realize that the time of talk has long past,” Diouf told the forum. “Now is the time for action. The food crisis has taught us that to defeat hunger, we have to deal with its root causes and not to continue coping with the consequences of past mistakes,” he said.
“The increase in food prices began in 2006, it accelerated in 2007, and peaked by June 2008. This meant that within only two years, international prices of basic food commodities rose by about 60 percent while those for grains doubled," Diouf said.
He added, that “it should be noted that average prices of food are still 17 percent higher than in 2006 and 24 percent higher than in 2005. In addition, the “stock-to-use” ratio for cereals in 2007/08, at 20.2 percent, was at its lowest level in 30 years”.
115 million more hungry
High food prices caused the number of hungry people in the world to soar by 115 million, according to the FAO.
“Preliminary results of work conducted by FAO show that the financial and economic crisis could drag some 100 million more persons into chronic hunger,” said Diouf, noting that one billion people, 15 percent of the global population, now do not get enough food to eat.
Thirty-one countries are as of last month in a situation of food crisis requiring emergency assistance. Twenty of these are in Africa, nine in Asia and the Near East and two in Central America and the Caribbean.
A bigger proportion of development aid for agriculture
“This cannot be acceptable. How can we explain to people of good sense and good faith this dramatic situation in a state of abundance of international resources and when trillions of US dollars are being spent to stimulate the world economy?” he said.
The FAO Director General also called for a bigger proportion of development aid for agriculture so that developing countries can increase their agricultural output by investing in rural infrastructures and ensuring access to modern inputs and assistance of adequate institutions for small farmers.