What are the international community’s best hopes for tackling today’s food crisis and preventing a more acute one in the near future? Increasing food production in Africa and elimination of trade barriers that hamper the international flow of food, the director of the World Trade Organization suggests.
“Without immediate action in these two areas, there is a risk that hunger will become even more widespread, with many million more lives at stake,” Pascal Lamy says in the Guardian’s Poverty Matters blog.
On improving food production, Lamy says the focus should be on Africa. He urges African governments to reassess their policies and offer incentives to promote the use of new farming methods and technologies. Meanwhile, rich countries should play its role “by curbing the use of trade distorting subsidies which result in food surpluses being dumped on third country markets,” Lamy adds.
Lamy also makes a case for relaxing export restrictions, particularly by countries that produce and provide the bulk of the world’s food.
“Governments that impose export restrictions – quotas, taxes or bans – often do so for the understandable reason that they want to ensure adequate supplies of meat or cereals for domestic consumers,” the WTO director-general says. “Yet, trade in agricultural products represents such a small percentage of overall production that the absence of even one big player from the export market can have a dramatic effect on prices.”
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