Preventing food price volatility and protecting the poor from the effects of rising and fast-changing global food prices require a renewed focus on the role of smallholder farmers and urgent investments to help them, an agriculture and food policy expert says.
Shenggen Fan, director-general of the U.S.-based International Food Policy Research Institute, says agriculture ministers from G-20 member countries, who have been tasked with developing an action plan to address food price volatility and its impact on poor people, should prioritize agricultural and rural development with a focus on smallholder farmers.
G-20 agriculture ministers are due to meet June 22-23 in France for their first-ever official summit.
“As experts in agriculture, the ministers no doubt know what extensive research confirms: Investing in agriculture and rural development, with a focus on smallholder farmers, is the best bet for achieving global food security, alleviating poverty, and improving human wellbeing in developing countries,” Fan says in a press statement. “During their upcoming meeting, the G20 ministers should seize the opportunity to call attention to this essential fact and propose a corresponding plan of action.”
Fan also emphasizes the need to address the gender gap in the agricultural sector, arguing that female farmers should be given equal access to education and farm inputs such as land, credit, training and seeds.
“But before the international community issues any new recommendations, they first need to make good on previous commitments, including the G8’s L’Aquila pledge in 2009 to invest $22 billion in agriculture, which must be targeted to small-scale farmers,” Fan says.
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