Focus on food security intensifies as politicians gather

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Private sector Barack obama

Focus on food security intensifies as politicians gather
Government should not rely on industry to fix the food chain, according to global charity Oxfam, speaking ahead of the G8 and Rio+20 Summits.

The non-governmental organisation said there were worrying signs that world leaders were increasingly looking to the private sector to make up for their shortfalls in tackling food security.

“The G8 must not give in to the temptation to make bold and convenient assumptions about the private sector as a development panacea,”​ said Oxfam campaigner Gawain Kripke. “There is no evidence that the growing focus on private sector engagement at the expense of other approaches will truly deliver for the fight against hunger.”

Help 50m quash poverty

It pressed world leaders meeting at the G8 at Camp David, Maryland, in the US to commit to policies that would help 50 million people quash poverty through sustainable, small-scale agriculture by 2015. 

“Farmers and herders, especially women, around the world are working tirelessly to overcome hunger in their communities, doing battle with high food prices, insects and erratic weather,”​ said Kripke. “This week at Camp David, we hope the G8 will join smallholder farmers and developing countries to fight hunger by delivering on their previous pledges and recommitting for the future.”

Three years ago, at the G8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy, US president Barack Obama rallied the leaders of the world’s richest countries to promise to invest $22bn over three years through country-led plans for food security.

Food insecurity

“At least 30 poor countries have developed plans to improve their agriculture and tackle food insecurity in their communities, but the promise of resources has yet to materialise,”​ said Kripke.  “It’s time for the G8 to live up to their end of the deal, and put the money on the table.”​ One of the big fears is that the Eurozone crisis will restrain European countries from offering much support.

Food, water and energy security will also feature heavily at the UN’s annual Rio Earth Summit, convened in Brazil in June, 20 years since the first such gathering.

Ahead of this event, UK secretary of state for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Caroline Spelman will meet with food industry stakeholders in London next Monday to outline government objectives.

Speakers at the event

Other speakers at the event, which is organised by UK trade body the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), include Professor Tim Benton, UK Champion for Global Food Security. David Norman from environmental lobbying group WWF, and Harriett Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation, will also speak. Nick Bunker, president of Kraft Foods UK and Ireland and chairman of the FDF’s Sustainability Steering Group, will chair the meeting.

FDF director of sustainability, Andrew Kuyk said: “We are looking forward to hearing how the Rio summit will address the growing demand for safe, secure, nutritious and affordable food while protecting and enhancing the vital natural resources on which production depends.

“Our event will also showcase what UK food and drink manufacturers have been doing to improve their own resource efficiency, establish more sustainable and resilient supply chains and decouple growth from environmental impact.”

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