Annan Cites Africa as Answer to Global Food Crisis‎

Published on Wall Street Journal /Blog, by Caroline Henshaw, June 27, 2011.

The number of hungry people in the world is set to top one billion again this year as rising food prices push millions more into poverty, the former secretary general of the United Nations warned Saturday.

Speaking at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, Kofi Annan said the increasing gap between population and food production growth may turn this year’s food security crisis into a permanent disaster.

“Delivering global food and nutrition security is the challenge of our time,” Mr. Annan said, echoing much of the rhetoric that surrounded the meeting of the Group of 20 agriculture ministers last week. 

“Delivering global food and nutrition security is the challenge of our time,” Mr. Annan said, echoing much of the rhetoric that surrounded the meeting of the Group of 20 agriculture ministers last week.

Like many experts in the sector, Mr. Annan sees Africa as the key to ensuring global food security in the future.

One in three Africans is chronically hungry, according to the UN, despite $3 billion being spent on food aid for the continent every year. And it is in Africa that the effects of this year’s record food prices have been felt most keenly and where the decades of predicted rising costs are expected to wreak their worst damage.

Where others have called for a new type of green revolution, Mr. Annan called instead for an African revolution, centered on improving the lives of smallholder farmers.

“Africa is the continent which has perhaps the greatest opportunities to help find solutions to global food insecurity,” he said. “Even within existing cultivated land, a doubling of cereal yields would turn Africa into a major food surplus region” … //

… On Friday, New Zealand gave $25 million to support research by the Global Research Alliance, a network of scientists from 36 countries which is working to boost food output while reducing its contribution to global warming.

Climate change is estimated to have increased the global food bill by $50 billion a year. Mr. Carter argues that science will be able to deliver where politics has failed: to devise a global approach to tackling food security and climate change, two of the world’s most pressing issues.

Yet, where politics is concerned, progress will always be slow. Many had high hopes that last week’s meeting of the G20 agriculture ministers would revolutionize the global politics of food security, only to find their expectations dashed. If the world is to start real revolution in Africa’s agriculture, actions will need to live up to words. (full text).

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