At the behest of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 44 of the world’s leaders gathered in Rome, Italy, yesterday to discuss possible solutions to the current global food crisis and the threat of starvation for almost one billion people around the world.
The secretary general of the UNO Ban Ki Moon opened the conference by saying that, in order to meet global food demand, production will have to increase by 50% by 2030.
The world leaders present were in agreement over the need for increased food aid and, subsequently, investment in agriculture, especially for Africa.
At a round table session, issues central to the summit such as biofuels, whose promotion by the USA has been heavily criticized, were discussed, and an emergency plan will be drawn up to reduce trade barriers, mobilize aid and rationalize investment in agriculture in poorer countries.
Carlo Petrini, president of Slow Food, commenting on the summit, said that, ‘The problem of the rise in food prices is that it hits countries the hardest where the population, 80% of whom live in rural areas, gets by on a very low income (2-3 dollars per capita a day)’.
He added that, ‘A possible solution to the current situation of emergency is to use proper, efficient tools to create a way to make subsistence farming a priority, instead of cultivating primarily for exportation. By doing this, the local economy will strengthen, grow and ultimately favor small-scale artisan production in tune with and in respect of the environment and local traditions’.
Food prices have doubled over the past few years, with corn, rice and wheat at record highs. The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) sees ‘prices retreating from their peaks but still up to 50 percent higher in the coming decade’.
International Herald Tribune