Global food crisis expands – number of hungry increases since 2004
October 10, 2008
While the financial crisis is grabbing headlines and the attention of world leaders, the global food crisis is far from over and poses nutritional security of poor people around the world, warns the director of an agricultural think tank.
Joachim von Braun, Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), says that although the global slowdown may reduce food prices, lack of investment in agriculture — especially in poor countries — will continue to plague the sector, hurting long-term productivity.
“The financial crisis reduces demand and speculative activity, leading to lower food prices, and this may provide some relief to poor consumers,” wrote von Braun in an editorial. “At the same time, however, the credit crunch prevents accelerated flow of capital to long-term investments in sectors such as agriculture, just as this investment is urgently needed. This undermines production growth toward a more resilient global food system.”
“The pattern of low global investment in agricultural research and development has contributed to slower growth in agricultural productivity. Unless the world addresses these challenges, the livelihoods and food security of millions of poor people, as well as the economic, ecological, and political situation in many developing countries, will remain at risk.”
Noting that the number of hungry actually increased by at least 75 million from 2004 to 2007, von Braun says researchers from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) have produced a list of fourteen “best bets” for raising agricultural output and reducing poverty for the lowest investment. The investments fall into three areas: create and accelerate sustainable increases in productivity and production of healthy food by and for poor people; conserve, enhance, and sustainably use natural resources and biodiversity to improve the livelihoods of the poor and respond to climate change; and mobilize science and technology to stimulate institutional innovation and enabling policies for pro-poor agricultural growth and gender equity.
The report is available at http://www.ifpri.org/pubs/ib/ib54.pdf