Mediterranean dialogue on the food crisis: the conflict strengthens the case for the transformation of agrifood systems – World
FAO Director-General joins dozens of ministers in summit to tackle rising food, fertilizer and fuel prices
Rome- Acknowledging a “very complicated” global scenario, QU Dongyu, Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), urged Mediterranean countries to work together to mitigate food security risks. which were further exacerbated by the war. in Ukraine.
“We must keep our global food trade system open and ensure that agri-food exports are neither restricted nor taxed,” he said today at the Mediterranean Ministerial Dialogue on the Food Crisis, an event organized by Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, which attracted ministers and government participants from over 24 countries.
Qu identified four main areas where cooperative efforts should be made: (i) more investment in countries that are severely affected by the current increase in food prices; (ii) reducing food loss and waste; (iii) better and more efficient use of natural resources, especially water and fertilizers; and (iv) a focus on technological and social innovations that can significantly reduce market failures in agriculture.
“Food insecurity and high prices can become a trigger for instability,” the Director-General warned. “Now is the time to transform agrifood systems for people, peace and prosperity, working together in partnership.
All farmers, large and small, must be able to apply risk management tools to manage their production and supply chain risks, while enhanced social protection and targeted assistance are needed to those most affected by the crisis, he added.
Minister Luigi di Maio opened the dialogue, noting that rarely has hunger had such a prominent place on the public agenda and emphasizing the importance of sustainable agri-food systems.
“We are facing the worst food crisis in decades,” said Svenja Schulze, German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development and co-chair of today’s event.
High prices for fertilizers and fuels, two essential agricultural inputs, are pressing issues for global food security, participants agreed.
“Rising energy and fertilizer prices jeopardize the next harvest globally,” Qu said. “Lack of access to key agricultural inputs poses a particular risk for countries where low natural soil fertility means that chemical fertilizers are often essential for food production.”
The Mediterranean Sea region includes 22 countries on three continents, each with diverse natural resources, agricultural traditions and production potential. While agriculture supports many livelihoods in the region and some countries have strong agricultural sectors, many depend on grain imports to feed their people, and most countries in the region had shown a trend towards increased food imports to meet domestic consumption needs even before the war. in Ukraine, said the Director-General.
Ukraine used to be a major source of these imports, but it is now logistically difficult to get the country’s farmers’ produce to international markets. Finding other suppliers takes time and entails higher transport costs, an added burden as the FAO Food Price Index hit a record high in March this year and remains at high levels.
Qu noted that the FAO proposed the Food Import Financing Facility support the balance of payments of low-income countries most dependent on food imports. He urged FAO members to support the plan and international financial institutions to take ownership.
At the same time, sustainable solutions require concerted efforts to support the transformation of agrifood systems. The Director-General noted that policy makers now have a common language to articulate roadmaps for the future. “We must work together for better production, better nutrition, better environment and better life for all, leaving no one behind…Let’s do our best.
Sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and production is essential, he noted. Reducing food loss and waste has great potential and is supported by broad consensus. More efficient and effective use of water and fertilizers is also essential, especially in the Mediterranean region, which has considerable opportunities to develop alternative inputs such as green ammonia, he said.
Qu praised the Italian government for its strong leadership in a difficult and challenging time. He participated in a brief press briefing with Minister Di Maio, who stressed that food security remains a cornerstone of his country’s political agenda. He and the FAO Director-General underscored global support in this regard, as evidenced by the signing last year, before the war in Ukraine broke out, of the Declaration of Materaduring which G20 members pledged to take action to fight zero hunger.
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