Rise in Food Prices: Measures the G8 Ought to Consider
To properly address the global emergency in food and oil prices, the international humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger / ACF-USA encourages the G8 to consider the following measures in their efforts to address the global food crisis:
(1) Prioritize Food Insecurity, Extreme Poverty, and Malnutrition: There is an unmistakable relationship between global hunger and the distribution of wealth—some 10% of the population controls some 90% of the wealth. Action Against Hunger believes a sincere commitment is needed from the G8 if we are to eradicate the extreme forms of hunger that afflict 854 million people each year.
(2) Revise Subsidies to Harness Global Markets for Agricultural Development: The subsidies systems in Western countries must encourage greater economic investment in sustainable forms of agriculture in the least developed countries.
(3) Reduce de facto Trade Barriers to Harness Agricultural Development: Eliminate trade barriers that serve to protect western markets while stultifying exports from the least developed countries;
(4) Incentivize Good Governance & National Investments in Agriculture: Provide incentives for governments to reduce exposure to debilitating market fluctuations by:
- Investing in local agricultural production: Africa, for example, has much untapped potential, but building capacity requires support: access to credit, agricultural extension programs, training and retooling, programs that reinforce local capacities, etc. This is the only way to ensure future self-sufficiency and avoid dependencies on external sources of food.
- Ensure Proper Management of Reserves and Buffer Stocks: Most countries have strategies in place that can easily be reinforced to avert crises: maintenance of buffer stocks and agricultural reserves that can temporarily ease the shock of price spikes.
(5) Promote Local Agricultural Development: To reduce dependency on global markets and contribute to the eradication of childhood malnutrition, local agricultural and market capacities must be strengthened. (6) Promote Renewable Energy: Make alternative and renewable energies (wind, sun, water) available and affordable and relevant to populations of modest means.
We are hoping for more than promises or long term plans that are doomed to fail. We aren’t as optimistic about the prospects for immediate solutions stemming from the recent G8 meetings. The unfortunate reality is that despite past commitments, the number of hungry people in the world continues to rise, and the recent inflation of food prices certainly won't help reverse this trend. At the same time, we do need honest commitments from the leading nations to prioritize and reduce hunger and malnutrition around the world. Immediate action is needed to avoid the threat of a broader humanitarian emergency." —Silke Pietzsch, Food Security Advisor, Action Against Hunger
To summarize: the G8 nations shoulder much of the responsibility for current global conditions and should commit to the achievable goal of ending hunger as a fundamental step towards alleviating human suffering, increasing international security, and fostering economic productivity where needed most.