G8 AGRICULTURE MINISTERS’ MEETING: WHY?

WORLD FOOD EMERGENCY

G8 Agricoltura

During the Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the G8 Countries held in Toyako, Japan, on July 9th 2008, a final declaration on the World Food Security was approved.

While realising how serious the problem of soaring food prices is, a rise caused by a mix of several factors – namely the increase in the demand of the big emerging Countries, increase of the prices of the raw materials, speculation on the markets, inadequacy of the production sectors– the G8 Countries leaders asked the Ministers of agriculture "to convene a summit to contribute developing concrete and sound proposals on world food security".

Starting in the summer of the year 2008 up until today, the conditions of the world agricultural markets have considerably changed: the international recession and the related decrease in the energy cost stopped the spiral of food prices.
However this is only a cyclical phase, the serious structural problem still remains.

The international community, the UN agencies and the main research and statistic centres, reckon that, with a new economic recovery cycle starting, food prices could increase even more remarkably while setting serious problems in the mid-low income Countries and causing dangerous inflationary trends in the most developed Countries.

THE FIRST G8 AGRICULTURE MINISTERS’ MEETING IN THE SUMMIT HISTORY

The Meeting, to be held in Cison di Valmarino (Treviso) from 18th to 20th April 2009, is the first meeting of the Ministers of agriculture of the G8 Countries.

Issue on the agenda: the world food emergency.

Format: given the specific subject matter, the debate involves Countries and International Bodies that are the main players in the world agricultural scenario. According to the guidelines provided by the coordination of the Italian G8 Presidency, the Summit of Cison di Valmarino will be attended by the Ministers of Agriculture of the G8 Countries (Italy, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, USA), the Vice Minister of agriculture of the Czech Republic in his capacity as Vice President in Office of the EU Council, the EU Commissioner for Agriculture Mariann Fischer Boel and the Ministers of Agriculture of: Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa and Argentina, Australia and Egypt. African Union, FAO, UN High Level Task Force on Food Security, IFAD, OECD, World Bank and WFP have also been invited to attend the event.

Program: the program envisages a first meeting according to the G8 format, to be held on Saturday 18th. The meeting will then open to other actors in the following Sunday and Monday.

Objective: to detect a common strategy to face the next spirals of agricultural raw materials prices and to limit the impact of future world food emergencies. A brief joint declaration will be negotiated and, possibly, brought to the attention of the leaders of the G8 Countries in view of the Summit that will take place on July on the island of la Maddalena, Italy.

Strategy: a brief working document is being drafted to identify the actions to be taken and co-ordinated by the different governments with the concrete participation of the main UN bodies directly involved and with the World Bank, in order to place again the agricultural production at the very centre of the economic policies’ strategies, to tackle speculations, to improve the production sectors, to stimulate the investments and the targeted aids set for low income areas with agricultural vocation worldwide.

THE ANSWERS

Among the main structural interventions to be faced within the G8, there are:
› Key role of the agricultural production
› Increase of the productivity of the developing countries in order to reduce the gap demand/offer
› Investments aimed at connecting agricultural productions of the single States to the urban areas
› Strengthening rural areas
› Improvement of the transparency of the price formation mechanism on the international agricultural markets
› Coordinated management of international stocks, through the availability of the reserves of the bigger producing Countries or through coordinated interventions agreed at the multilateral level on futures markets
› Fight against speculations

Over the year of the Italian G8 Presidency, we aim at facilitating the process of the implementation of the Global Partnership for Agriculture and Food Security, representing the supranational institutional framework for the involvement and co-ordination of all the main players (UN High Level Task Force, donors, private sector, civil society), to ensure that agriculture and food security are at the core of the development strategies of the world economy, while being connected – at the national and the international level – to the Expo agroalimentare to be held in Milan in the year 2015.

SOME FIGURES

› There are almost one billion people suffering from hunger worldwide.
› Furthermore, there is a second kind of hunger that is undernourishment: affected people are not yet on the verge of starvation, but they suffer from chronic hunger because they are not sufficiently nourished. Mothers suffering from chronic hunger have underweight or weak babies. According to the WHO estimate, 3 million underweight babies die every year.
› Then, there is hidden hunger. Millions of people survive with a very limited diet and eat the same food almost every day; therefore, they do not benefit from a proper vitamins and minerals intake. The so-called “hidden hunger” affects over 2 billion people, with serious consequences. Around 100-140 million children suffer from A and D vitamin deficiency and, every year, more than 2 million face sight related problems.