ANALYSIS - Agriculture ministers from around the world have backed a plan to increase food security and sustainability and reduce food waste.
Following the G20 meeting of agriculture ministers in Turkey, the ministers said that the pressures on natural resources and biodiversity and the impacts of climate change have produced a need for a rise in productivity while at the same time moving towards food systems that are more sustainable.
In a communique unanimously agreed at the meeting last week, the ministers said that that responsible investment in sustainable and resilient food systems should raise productivity to expand food supplies and increase incomes and quality jobs in rural areas.
The ministers gave full backing to the G20 Food Security and Nutrition Framework that was agreed last year.
“We appreciate the work of the Development Working Group (DWG) in coordinating the G20’s food security and development agendas and in particular in fighting poverty which remains the main cause of food insecurity and barrier to the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security,” they said.
The communique called for more market transparency and disclosure of data and more collaboration in the Agricultural Market Information System.
The ministers have said that as adequate nutrition is a prerequisite for human development, productivity and growth, the major exhibition in Milan, Expo Milano 2015 with the theme of Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life needs to be supported.
The said that sustainable food systems should promote sustainable increases in productivity and production, use natural resources more efficiently, increase resilience and help address climate change in accordance with the UNFCCC.
“Improvement of soil fertility, water retention capacity and restoration of degraded land are key elements to improve agricultural productivity for food security in a changing climate,” they said.
“Sustainable food systems can help promote not only food security and the more sustainable use of natural resources but also economic and social opportunities through quality jobs especially for smallholders, rural women and youth.
“Good coordination among responsible government authorities is essential for the identification and implementation of policies to promote responsible public and private investments in infrastructure, irrigation, protection of soils, open and transparent markets, technologies, knowledge sharing, rural services including financial services, extension and advisory services, social protection programs, health and safety at work, employment services and vocational training and education.”
They have called for a comprehensive food systems approach taking into account food value chains from production through processing to distribution and retail to consumption.
And they have called on the private sector to back the moves to help governments achieve sustainable production systems.
With investment needed at all stages of the food chain to raise productivity, the ministers have promised that governments will promote the environment and infrastructure for investment , backing financial institutions and securing the tenure of land and managing risk.
They have also called for a multilateral trading system and are backing the current negotiations that are taking place in the World Trade Organisation.
“Improving agricultural productivity sustainably is fundamental to the achievement of sustainable food systems and food security,” the ministers said.
“The G20 has launched a number of initiatives in the past to support agricultural productivity growth.
“These efforts need to be strengthened where appropriate.
“We support their extension as appropriate to include the whole food system, for example in the areas of processing, storage and distribution, and to consider the special needs of vulnerable farmers, which may include smallholders and family farmers, in the broader context of inclusive and sustainable rural development.”
The communique also says that productivity can be improved by using new technologies and sharing knowledge and the ministers have called for greater cooperation between G20 members in promoting agricultural policies that back sustainable farming practices.
They said that food waste is a global problem and needs collective action and leadership from the G20.
Action needs to be taken based on prevention of food loss and waste and recovery of food that is going to waste.
The ministers have turned to the FAO to join forces with IFPRI and other relevant international organisations to establish a platform for sharing information and experiences over food loss to measure the amount that is wasted around the world.
And they demanded an action plan be drawn up to be put to the leaders’ summit to take place in Turkey.