Food price volatility: G20 must go beyond market tango to tackle global hunger – CIDSE

Food price volatility: G20 must go beyond market tango to tackle global hunger

CIDSE G20 Agricultural Ministers Press statement

(Brussels, 17 June 2011) Measures to reduce price volatility in agricultural markets is one of the issues G20 Agricultural Ministers will discuss when they meet on Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 of June in Paris. As food price volatility persists, with prices now fluctuating around a level twice as high as the average level in the period of 1990 – 2006, the issue can no longer be ignored. This increasingly frequent volatility is a result of a complex web of factors with dire consequences for the world’s poorest consumers who spend 50 – 70% of their income on food.  The international alliance of Catholic development agencies CIDSE welcomes the fact that curbing of price volatility is high on the G20 agenda, while warning that poverty in general, and access to food in particular, are structural issues that must be addressed in order to reduce the number of hungry people in the world.

In an open letter to G20 Ministers CIDSE says that in order to achieve global food security the G20 is right to aim at preventing excessive speculation and regulating commodity markets as well as addressing the issue of food reserves. However, the alliance argues that regulating markets is but one piece of the puzzle and that the G20 should also support measures to strengthen local small holder production whilst supporting the harmonisation of the various global food security initiatives towards a multilateral food governance within the UN.

“Food security cannot be addressed through markets alone; it is not because of a lack of production that nearly 1bn people go hungry. Sufficient food is produced globally, but tremendous quantities go to waste after production, during processing, transport or on supermarket shelves,” said CIDSE’s food expert Gisele Henriques, who will be attending the G20 meeting in Paris.

“Hunger is a consequence of poverty, not just a matter of supply, and as such it needs to be addressed. The term volatility suggests peaks and dips, but prices have increased substantially over the years. Even if food prices stabilise it is expected they will not go below the 2007 levels and will continue to increase in the next decades. These increases can be life threatening if you spend most of your income on food; not to mention the impact on national security.”

As agriculture is the mainstay of 75% of the developing world’s poor, CIDSE believes food policies should strengthen local production by small holder farmers, who account for 75% of the hungry in the world. It is extremely worrying that aid to the agricultural sector has decreased from 18% of Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 1979 to less than 4% currently. This trend must be reversed in favour of agricultural policies which support modes of production that develop and promote food and livelihood systems with greater environmental, economic and social resilience in face of climate change and future economic and food price crises.

Contact in Paris: Gisele Henriques, CIDSE Policy and Advocacy Officer, henriques(at), +32(0)485144640

Notes to the editors  

  • CIDSE is an international alliance of Catholic development agencies. Its members share a common strategy in their efforts to eradicate poverty and establish global justice.
  • The G20 Agricultural Ministers meeting in Paris on 22 and 23 June 2011.
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