Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Secretary-General UN calls for food security measures

20 April 2008 – The forces of trade and globalization that have driven a “virtuous cycle” of economic prosperity around the world in the last two decades must be allowed to continue or the current crisis in poor countries over soaring food prices will only worsen, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a major gathering of trade and development officials today.

Speaking in Accra, Ghana, at the opening of the twelfth UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Mr. Ban warned that neither the food crisis nor the chance that some regions may be poised for a slowdown should be used by governments as an excuse to turn towards protectionism.

“One thing is certain: for the past three years, the world has consumed more
food than it produces. Grain stocks are at their lowest in 30 years. The
situation is unsustainable.”

Mr. Ban told the conference that immediate steps must be taken to guarantee the world's food security, starting by ensuring the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has the additional $755 million it needs to cover the rising costs of its existing emergency operations.

In the long-term, he said, agricultural production must be expanded, especially in the developing world and sub-Saharan Africa. “Simply improving market efficiency can have a huge effect. Roughly a third of the world's food shortages, according to the WFP, are the result of bottlenecks in local markets and distribution systems.”

Welcoming the World Bank's plans to increase its agricultural lending in Africa from $400 million to $800 million next year, the Secretary-General said the rest of the international community must take similar measures to alleviate the problems of the developing world.

From left to right: President John Agyekum Kufuor of Ghana, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President Luiz Ignácio Lula da Silva of Brazil during UNCTAD XII opening ceremony

Reference: UN Newscenter: Secretary-General Ban warns against impulses towards protectionism

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