From the podium

From the podium

Ms Kriste E. Suklac (International Agri-Food Network)

Thank you Chair for the opportunity to address the World Food Summit:five years later this evening.

I am from the International Fertilizer Industry Association which is one of the participants in the International Agri-Food Network was formed at the time of the 1996 World Food Summit. Itcontinues to facilitate informal liaison among the professional organizations in the agri-food chain. Participation is open to any association representing a sector in the agri-food chain at the global level. Sectors that do not have a truly international organization may liase through regional associations.

The intricate links in the food chain –from the supply of agricultural raw materials to the production of food and its distribution – are of primary concern to the International Agri-Food Network and all of the associated businesses involved in feeding the world. These include companies providing essential inputs, individual and family farms, cooperatives (who we have heard this evening), companies involved in food processing and transport, and they may range from small and medium-sized enterprises to multinational corporations. I would like to emphasize this diversity because it highlights the different roles that can be played.

Feeding a global population projected to be some 50 percent higher in thirty years time would require technological innovation and sounder management of scarce resources such as land and water. Increased investment, innovation and good management are key business activities and international trade needs to raise productivity efficiently.

Expanding global food production through productivity advances in the agricultural sector, however, is 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 value. 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, as well as 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. The private sector can only meet this larger and growing responsibility within the appropriate legal and institutional frameworks, which are the responsibility of Governments. 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 of the conditions required.

Government actions can have a positive impact on the capacity of the private sector to contribute to food security and sustainable agriculture. All Governments must make a clear commitment to open, well-functioning markets, and enabling framework for the dissemination of safe technology in agriculture and food production, and science-based food quality standards.

We all know of the challenges that face us: hunger and malnutrition persist; the world population is growing and rising incomes is changing patterns of food consumption. The agri-food industry sectors have a major responsibility to face up to these challenges by assuming a continuing role in agricultural research and development; adopting a growing role in training, capacity-building and technology transfer; providing technologies that contribute to meeting world food needs in a sustainable manner and promoting an integrated approach to farm management that improve plant nutrition, water management, crop protection and animal health, among others; helping to constantly improve the quality and variety of food and agricultural products, and aiming for closer cooperation and coordination among the various sectors of the agri-food chain.

With regard to this last point, business and industry would like to note its appreciation of the opportunities that FAO has provided at this Summit for non-government actors to engage: including the Multistakeholder Dialogue, the parallel Private Sector and NGO Forums and the provision of facilities on FAO premises for Side Events. We hope that this engagement will continue to deepen, and that the modalities tested here this week will be improved. However, dialogue is only a beginning, and cooperative action among all stakeholders in the food chain is now required more urgently than ever.

Public/private partnerships and multistakeholder projects have, in recent years, spread and involved an increasing number of groups. It seems that all of us here this week have a common goal: putting sustainable agriculture into practice to end hunger. I would be happy to share some of the concrete ways in which we have already begun to develop such projects and in ways we hope to see them expand in future.

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