United Nations : With soaring food prices and shortage of basic staples looming on world’s poor, its time to bring agriculture in the “centre of development agenda”, employ the best available agri-technologies and create “level playing field” for farmers of developing countries, a UN body special meeting said.
“The time to act is now. It is my view that agriculture has to be put back in the centre of the development agenda,” President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Lo Mrors told a special meeting stressing the need for both immediate action to meet humanitarian needs and for longer-term increased agricultural production.
“We need to concentrate efforts on minimizing greenhouse emissions, deforestation and global warming, while finding ways to promote investments in agriculture”, the ECOSOC President said.
Calling upon the member states to muster political will and resources to ensure a lasting solution, Mrors said, “...(we’ve to) maximize the use of agro-science and technology, with the aim of reducing the costs of production and substantially increasing the productivity and output of every hectare of arable land.”
General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim emphasized the need for greater investment in agriculture so as to boost production to meet the global demand.
“We need to use our best science, tools and technologies to optimize efficiency and boost production,” he said.
“We also need to implement policies that support land and resource ownership. Trade policy reforms are overdue. We need to create more of a level playing field for developing country farmers to benefit from higher prices”, he added.
The ECOSOC President while welcoming the recent establishment by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of a high-level task force on the crisis said the Council would do all it could to contribute.
During its substantive session in July, the Council will convene round-table and panel discussions on food security and its humanitarian segment is expected to focus in part on the challenges related to the provision of food aid.
Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro highlighted in the meeting that the burgeoning crisis could virtually wipe out the progress the world leaders have so far made towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) the set of eight anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline.
“That represents seven lost years in the global fight against poverty and hunger,” she said.
Stressing that much of the problem is man-made, Migiro urged policymakers to carefully examine the many cases, including the increasing use of bio-fuels, especially those that are grain-based.
“The trade-off between the energy, environment and social issues involved is subtle and immensely complex,” she cautioned.
Meanwhile, Kerim stressed that spike in oil prices had contributed significantly to the surge in food costs.
“A sustainable solution to the crisis must therefore be linked to oil price stability and our efforts to tackle climate change”, he said.