Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

Final Declaration of the G8 Agricultural Ministers - Agriculture and Food Security top the International Agenda
28 April 2009

Acknowledgements: FANRPAN acknowledges WineNews as the source of this article:

The Declaration of the leaders of G8 countries on Food Security, adopted in Toyako (Japan) in 2008, took note of the negative effects of the food crisis on the living conditions of millions of people in various parts of the world. They also recognized the need to define measures in the short, mid and long-term to cope with food insecurity and poverty and called on the Ministers of Agriculture to develop concrete proposals to share world food security in order to prevent future crises linked to prices of agricultural raw materials and production tools. Below is the declaration that was made.

We, the Ministers of Agriculture of the G8 countries, from our meeting on April 18-20, 2009, have adopted the following conclusions:

The Declaration of Millennium 2000 established the goal of cutting in half the proportion of people in poverty and malnutrition conditions, by 2015. The world is still far from achieving this goal, as can be seen by the alarming data provided by the competent International committees.

The High Level Conference on Food Security FAO held in Rome on June 3-5, 2008, reaffirms the commitment of achieving the Millennium Development Goals by increasing agricultural production and responses to the immediate needs of the most vulnerable populations. Particular attention is given to means for mitigating and adapting climate change. The conference has drawn attention to the importance of Voluntary Guidelines for the progressive realization of the right to an adequate amount of food in the context of national food security.

The international Institutions have pointed out, on other occasions, the urgent need to help developing countries and countries in emerging economies to expand their agricultural and food production as well as to increase both public and private investment in agriculture, in Agro-business and rural development. We believe we must do much more to increase the quantity and improve the quality of agricultural production and to give everyone the opportunity to have access, economically and physically, to healthy, nutritious foods.

Although the global economic downturn has caused a sharp decline in prices of most agricultural commodities on the International market since the summer of 2008, which has resulted in a fall of consumer prices for some consumers, in some countries these prices are still well above previous minimum values. The severity of the economic downturn has meant an increase, compared to last year, in the number of poor people who consequently are suffering hunger. In the medium term, prices may be influenced by structural factors and the increase in volatility and demand raises questions relevant to food safety, for the future.

In view of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of G8 countries, to be held at La Maddalena, from 8 to 10 July 2009, and the forthcoming international events, which will address the issue of food security, we send the following messages to world leaders:
  1. Agriculture and food security are at the heart of the International agenda.

  2. Ensuring access to an adequate amount of water and food is essential for sustainable development and thus for our future. It is necessary to focus attention on the strategies to implement and share to reduce poverty and increase global production, thereby achieving food security, particularly in developing countries. We should create an environment capable of increasing the consistency of policies that recognize the links between agriculture and other policies such as development, health, economic, financial, and monetary, trade, environment, forests, fisheries, education, employment and social policies.

  3. We stress the importance of increasing public and private investment in sustainable rural development and environmental protection, in cooperation with International organizations. Taking into account the population growth, it is essential to address the impact of climate change and ensure sustainable management of water, forests and other natural resources.

  4. We stress the importance of sound agricultural policies and strategies to support investment on national, regional and global levels. Policies and strategies must be developed as all-inclusive, involve key actors in the sector, including farmer organizations and based on reliable statistics. In Africa, the Global Program of Agricultural Development in Africa (CAADP) embraces these principles and deserves our support.

  5. We call for increased support, including investment in science and research, technology, education, dissemination and innovation in agriculture. We are committed to increasing the sharing of technologies, processes and ideas with other countries to increase the capacity of national and regional institutions and governments to promote food security. These efforts are essential to increase agricultural productivity and sustainable rural development in each country, according to the different agricultural realities, respecting biodiversity, and improving access to food, socio-economic development and prosperity. We will continue to support capacity building in developing countries given to sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards to facilitate market access and meet the demands of consumers.

  6. Farmers must be the protagonists of the agricultural sector. Agriculture must respond to the needs of citizens in matters of safety and wholesomeness of food, producing healthy and nutritious foods that satisfy consumer demand and should not be subject to the adverse effects of trade distortions. It is necessary to monitor and conduct further analysis on the factors that potentially may result in volatility in the prices of agricultural raw materials, including speculation. A coordinated approach at International level aiming to improve the efficiency of agro-food chains is encouraged. We must take action to reduce losses along the supply chains in developing countries, particularly those that occur after harvest, in order to reduce the amount of raw materials that are required by the food chains and to improve hygiene, health and nutritional power. We need to support similar efforts to reduce waste in industrialized countries. We need to support the beneficial effects of globalization and opening to markets, highlighting the importance of a system of International trade of agricultural products based on specific rules. We are committed to reaching a comprehensive ambitious and balanced conclusion of the Doha Round.

  7. We want to sustain the role of well-functioning markets as a means to improve food safety. We shall continue to explore various options in a coordinated approach to the management of stocks. The major international institutions will examine whether this system of stock management can be effective in addressing the humanitarian emergency or as a means to limit price-volatility. They should examine the feasibility and administrative modalities of the system. In light of the results, new initiatives will be examined and the need to establish a broad consultation process, assessed.

  8. We need to put agriculture and rural development at the center of sustainable economic growth, together with other policies. We need to strengthen the role of agricultural households and small farmers by facilitating their access to land and also strengthen the role of women, equal rights and generational turnover. Food security also requires policies designed to ensure the effective management and sustainable use of natural resources by involving local communities, while respecting their identity. This pattern of growth also responds to the requirements of the less developed rural areas where local sustainable production needs to be increased. We must pay attention to the operations of leasing and selling agricultural land to ensure that local conditions and traditional land use are respected.

  9. The production of renewable energy through biomass must be increased in a sustainable way through a balanced combination of energy policy needs and agricultural production, in order to provide an answer to our energy, economical, environmental and agricultural needs. At the same time, food safety must not be compromised. Policies should encourage production and consumption of sustainable bio-fuel for the environment, promoting its benefits and reducing any potential risk. There should be a strong emphasis on the second-generation development and commercialization of bio-fuel, according to the guidelines of the Statement at the High Level Conference on World Food Security held in June 2008.

  10. Farmers need appropriate mechanisms for risk management and market crises. The national and International forecasting and management of agricultural statistics and pre-alert mechanisms must be strengthened and better coordinated to anticipate and avoid future crises. We must ensure that the institutions and International organizations will be able to face new challenges.

  11. We are committed to full implementation of the ongoing reform of the International system for food security-including the FAO and other relevant International organizations such as the CGIAR. We urge the other Member States and all the components of the UN system to support this effort. Increasing the focus of the effectiveness of FAO’s activities is very important due to the challenges we face in strengthening food security. We once again confirm our support for the reform and revitalization of the Committee on Food Security in the UN for 2009.

  12. Similarly, we stress our support for the consultation process and the rapid formation of the “Global Partnership” in accordance with guidelines provided by the Final Declaration of the G8 Summit in Toyako. This Partnership will have a consistent approach by engaging all parties and strengthening the structures and institutions. Furthermore, it should have a political dimension of global time to better coordination and greater coherence of the strategies and International policies that have an impact on World Food Security. A global network of high-level experts on agriculture and food should take appropriate measures, within the partnership, to conduct scientific analysis and to highlight needs and future risks. Let us look at the summit of La Maddalena as a further important step forward in addressing the problems of agriculture and world food security and advancing towards Global Partnership.

  13. We reconfirm our support of the coordination put in place by the High Level Task Force on Food Security of the United Nations, chaired by the Secretary General and the Comprehensive Framework for Action (CFA), which includes emergency measures and initiatives to ensure economic recovery and sustainability.
We pledge to use all means at our disposal to reduce the negative effects of the financial crisis on poverty and hunger, to strengthen and encourage sustainable food production, to increase investment in agriculture and research, to avoid unfair competition, to avoid distortions of the agricultural market - including export restrictions, as agreed in the G20 - and to remove obstacles for sustainable use of agricultural production factors.

The renewed focus centering on agriculture can have significant impact on other policies, especially those relating to health (by fighting hunger), malnutrition and environmental policies. We reaffirm our determination to defeat hunger and to ensure present and future generations access to sufficient, healthy and nutritional foods.

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