At the end of last week, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon addressed the General Assembly on investment and financing of Least Developed Countries (LDCs). In his speech, he highlighted the need to focus attention on agriculture, one of the most important sectors for the growth of LDCs.
For too long now, we have ignored investments in agriculture.
In the past decade the cost of importing food in LDCs has tripled.
Global food prices have just reached record levels, and LDCs face a real prospect of a new food crisis. Millions of people have been pushed into poverty by the latest food price rises.
I am especially concerned about the poorest households, that often spend three-quarters of their income on food.
They have no buffer. When prices go up, they go hungry. Women and children are the worst hit.
Addressing these challenges, he said, was a question of investment in the right places.
My High Level Task Force is coordinating responses by the UN system to respond to immediate needs, build up local food markets and stimulate increased production.
We need to invest more in sustainable agriculture – especially in smallholder farmers and the infrastructure they need.
This is important, both for food security and competitiveness in international markets.
And it means investing in climate change adaptation and mitigation as well as in the ecosystem services that underpin agriculture.
Looking onwards to Rio+20 taking place next year, Ban Ki-Moon recognized the need for collaboration between the different sectors.
We need to connect the dots between poverty, climate change, energy, food and water.
Lastly, he spoke of the need for giving smallholder farmers in LDCs access to fair markets.
Least developed countries need to grow food and other commodities, manufacture products and develop other services. But they also need to be able to trade fairly in the global marketplace.
The international community has failed to follow through on global commitments enshrined in the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Declaration on Financing for Development. I call again for a successful conclusion to the Doha Development Round of multilateral trade negotiations.
Aid for Trade is vital, but will do little good if global markets are blocked or intrinsically unfair.