Stories tagged: UN Secretary General

World Food Day 2012

The 39th Committee on World Food Security celebrated World Food Day today in Rome.

This morning’s ceremony featured speeches from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) Ertharin Cousin, Director-General of the FAO José Graziano da Silva and Pope Benedict XVI, whose message was delivered by Archbishop Luigi Travaglino.

This years theme was agricultural cooperatives, as José Graziano da Silva explains:

This theme was chosen to highlight the many, concrete ways in which agricultural cooperatives and producer organizations help to provide food security, generate employment, and lift people out of poverty. For FAO and its partners, agricultural cooperatives are natural allies in the fight against hunger and extreme poverty.
The Director-General of the FAO then went on to discuss the struggles of smallholder farmers:
Every day, small producers around the world continue to face constraints that keep them from reaping the benefits of their labour and contributing to food security not only for themselves but for all through active participation in markets.
[…] What is needed is the establishment of an enabling environment that allows small producers to take full advantage of available opportunities. Strong cooperatives and producer organizations are an essential part of that enabling environment.”
Ban Ki-Moon also acknowledged that agricultural cooperatives “are invaluable in our aim to double the income and productivity of smallholder farmers”.
IFAD President Kanayo Nwanze joined discussions on the collective power of smallholder farmers:
Individually, these smallholders have little power. But when they join together, they have greater purchasing power. They have greater bargaining power in the marketplace. And they have greater power to influence the policies that affect their lives.
President Nwanze also reiterated the UN’s ‘zero hungry’ promise, stressing:
In a world of plenty, as long as one child dies of hunger or suffers from malnutrition, our work is not done yet.  And there is nothing to celebrate.
Women farmers were also a key topic of the morning with Pope Benedict XVI’s message emphasizing the “invaluable role of women” in retaining the family role as well as upholding rural traditions.Ertharin Cousin concluded the event, urging the committee to increase productivity by educating farmers:

If farmers know there’s a market, if they receive training, they will produce more food with higher nutritional value
The 39th Committee on World Food Security will continue until the 20th October 2012.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s Speech on Least Developed Countries

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.