Current Food Security and Scarcity Issues Need Urgent Action From the Approaching G20 Summit

By Alison Withers

The pressure is on for the approaching G20 summit to completely rethink of the whole global food production and distribution system.

There is a growing feeling that the current crisis about food scarcity has less to do with the quantity of food being produced but is more a political problem and a failure to tackle the issues of uneven distribution and speculation on prices.

Already, however, the rainy season across Asia, particularly the current flooding in China, however, is already leading to predictions of food price increases as has already been predicted because of the spring drought in the UK and its effect on the wheat crop.

Most commentators seem to agree, however that those who suffer worst are the world's small farmers, who are hit by both poverty and hunger and that the causes of their problems are lack of access to enough land and water, to poor organisation of local markets and to inadequate infrastructure.

There are five keys to creating a fairer system, it is said. The first is a real will and co-ordinated effort among the G20 countries to introduce controls and regulation to prevent speculation on basic food commodity prices and also to strengthen the co-operation between states to improve food security internationally.

Perhaps the most important item in the list is providing greater support to small farmers. Improving local and regional storage systems is vital to prevent the current wastage of between 20% and 40% of their crops.

It is also very important to help small farmers financially, perhaps by supporting them to form co-operatives to give them greater bargaining power to sell their produce when competing against powerful agribusinesses. But it would also make it possible for farmers to access the low-chem agricultural products that would help them to protect their crops from pests and crop diseases thereby increasing the yield from their land while protecting its quality so that it retains the nutrients needed to continue producing.

Biopesticides derived from natural sources are just one of the innovative new products becoming available, but they take a long time to get from the labs of the biopesticides developers to the field, thanks to the cost and time it takes to test, approve and licence them.

Their potential for helping small farmers in the developing world to farm sustainably and productively is considerable; provided the farmers can afford them and provided that the training is available to help them understand their use.

It is unclear what the focus will be in the G20 agenda for tackling the food problems that are making food so much more expensive for hard-pressed consumers but it is clear that some urgent and effective measures do need to be put in place as quickly as possible.

Alison Withers
Article by Alison Withers
Writer Ali Withers argues that the approaching G20 summit needs to come up with radical solutions needs to come up with a radical overhaul of the current global food security and distribution system.

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