Today the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, outlined five urgent steps to halt the global food crisis and transform agrifood systems, as he addressed the G7 Ministerial Conference “Uniting for Global Food Security.”
Among the major threats to global food security and the functioning of agrifood systems, Qu cited the COVID-19 pandemic; the global interruption of supply chain and rising costs of major primary commodities; the war in Ukraine, and other top ten conflicts and humanitarian crises across the world and their detrimental consequences. The situation has been further aggravated by the long-term decreased investment in agrifood systems, facing pressure under climate change and population growth, he noted.
“We are at serious risk of facing a food access crisis now, and a food availability crisis for the next season,” the Director-General said.
To address this situation, Qu outlined the following urgent steps:
First, it is vital to invest in countries most severely affected by the increase in food prices. In addition to food aid, supporting local production of nutritious foods is also key. Currently only eight percent of all food security funding in emergencies and crisis aids goes to assist agricultural production.
Second, Qu called for greater support for the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) multi-partner initiative for improving food security and nutrition analysis and decision-making to expand the country coverage.
The IPC provides information on the scale and severity of food insecurity and famine situation. In 2021, the G7 recognized the IPC as the ‘gold standard’ for food security analysis, underscoring its role as the critical pillar of global responses to hunger. “IPC coverage needs to increase from 46 to at least 84 countries facing a challenging situation,” Qu said.
Third, countries need to foster policies that increase productivity, efficiency, resilience, and inclusivity of agrifood systems. That will require significant financial investment, estimated at eight percent of the size of the agrifood market, the Director-General noted adding that investment should cover hard infrastructure, value chain infrastructure, innovation, new technologies and digital inclusive infrastructure.
Fourth, reducing food loss and waste can improve food security and nutrition. Foods currently lost and wasted could feed around 1.26 billion people per year. “If we try to reduce 50 percent of food loss and waste, there would be sufficient fruits and vegetables for all”, the Director-General stressed. FAO developed the comprehensive plan of actions for 52 Hand-in-Hand Initiative countries to achieve this goal.
Fifth, ensuring better and more efficient use of available fertilizers is of paramount importance. It is crucial that all key partners work in a coherent way to get necessary fertilizers available to farmers in time, Qu said urging countries to improve fertilizer efficiency to fit local farming systems. For example, fast implementation of detailed soil maps would support the most vulnerable countries to use their fertilizers more efficiently.
Speaking about market transparency and the need to stabilise prices, the Director-General highlighted the importance of keeping global trade system open. He reiterated FAO’s commitment to enhancing global market transparency through the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS), which is an essential tool to foster confidence in global markets.
The international conference was hosted by German Government, represented by Minister for Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock, Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Svenja Schulze and Minister of Food and Agriculture Cem Özdemir. The conference brought together ministers and representatives from a diverse group of countries, including the G7, the UN Global Crisis Response Group Champions, key donor states, and the most vulnerable and affected countries, as well as leaders from international organizations such as the United Nations and from civil society.