The G8 Development Ministers meeting in Rome on Friday June 12 included a session with representatives from African countries, UN agencies and the organization Bioversity International, to discuss the problems of development within the context of the current financial crisis.
The groups key recommendation to the G8 Ministers was to increase investment in agriculture. Overall spending on public agricultural research and development has declined over the past three decades, with funding by donors to agriculture falling from 17% of total spending in 1980 to less than 3% in 2006.
‘In these times of economic crisis everyone is looking for value for money, and research into agriculture offers a better return on investment than other forms of aid,’ said Emile Frison, Director General of Bioversity International. ‘We need to invest in different solutions to deliver food security,’ he added.
‘Food security requires many different approaches,’ he said. ‘In addition to larger harvests we need to use all the resources at our disposal to help farmers adapt their agriculture to the stresses of climate change and we need to make full use of agricultural biodiversity to deliver better nutrition and health.’
But protecting agricultural biodiversity, the organization hopes we may be able to achieve sustainability and resilience around the world, and assist countries to lift themselves out of poverty and move towards food security and better health.
Kanayo Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the UN’s rural poverty agency, stressed the importance of directing aid at Africa’s small farmers and support to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, which supports Bioversity International and other centers seeking to improve agriculture in the developing world.
The final statement of the meeting, which will go forward to the full G8 in July, calls for “coherent and science-based policies aimed at fostering inclusive and environmentally sound agricultural growth managed through an enhanced cooperation at the international, regional and local levels”