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“Not just food, Just Food”: time to rethink the global food system 0

Brussels/Rome –  In a new paper issued ahead of World Food Day 2011 (10th Oct) and an upcoming food summit in Rome at the UN Committee on World Food Security (17-22 Oct 2011), CIDSE says volatile food prices put both consumers and farmers in developing countries at risk.

According to the international alliance of Catholic development agencies, food price volatility is one of the structural problems which governments need to urgently address to guarantee the Right to Food for all human beings.

Bernd Nilles, Secretary General of CIDSE said: “Nearly 1 billion people are hungry. Yet, roughly a third of food produced globally is wasted. Our food system is a leaky bucket. It makes no sense to continue pouring water in it without plugging the holes first. To stop the leak, issues like unpredictable food prices, land rights, investment in smallholder agriculture, and the impacts of climate change on food production must be addressed.”

Food prices figure high on the agenda as governments meet in Rome next week for the 37th session of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS). In Food Price Volatility – Consequences and impacts on the Right to Food CIDSE looks at the increased price volatility since the 2007-2008 price spikes, which affects both consumers and producers in developing countries.

“We must all eat. But millions of people around the world are unable to pay more for food as prices increase. For a poor family which spends most of its household budget on food, price volatility is a matter of life and death. But small farmers are also affected, as they often don’t have enough investment capital to deal with unpredictable prices. We urgently need coherent trade and agriculture policies, tighter rules on food speculation and the establishment of food reserves to deal with emergencies and to stabilise markets,” Nilles said.

The FAO estimates that the 2007 and 2008 price spikes increased the number of undernourished people from 850 million in 2007 to over 1 billion in 2009.* Despite a drop in prices between 2009 and 2010, food prices have not returned to the pre-2007 levels and are now fluctuating around double the average level during the period 1990–2006.

The UN Committee on World Food Security also faces an important test of its authority as global coordinating body on food governance next week as it aims to adopt far-reaching guidelines on land governance**, which are vital for small farmers who are threatened by large scale land acquisitions, which is also referred to as ‘land grabbing’.

Sergio Marelli, Secretary General of Italian CIDSE member FOCSIV said: “The CFS is best placed to negotiate solutions between governments and oversee global action on food. Forging an agreement between countries on land governance would show that the multilateral approach works. The guidelines on land governance are crucial in the fight against hunger as they would secure the rights of small producers whose land and natural resources are targeted by investors.”

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Read also “Biofuels, Speculators Driving Food Price Surges” (Ips Africa)

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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi