By Laura Reynolds
In its first annual Global Food Policy Report, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) reflected on the major policy developments of 2011. The report analyzed the year’s food policy progress made and setbacks encountered at the global, regional, national, and local levels.
The report focused on seven areas of change, both positive and negative, in the agriculture system over the last year. These include rising food price levels and volatility, natural and human-caused disasters, biofuels policy changes, land management changes, new players entering the food-system reform debate, new commitments to addressing climate change, and an increased recognition of the links between agriculture and nutrition, health, water, and energy.
One reason for optimism highlighted in the report is the increased role agriculture and food security has on national and international decision-making. “After many years of neglect, agriculture and food security are back on the development and political agendas,” according to the report. It pointed out that some 20 African countries, as part of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), have adopted national agricultural and food security investment plans, in which they will devote 10 percent of their national budget to agriculture.
In addition, for the first time, in 2011, the agriculture ministers of the Group of 20 (G20) countries met and agreed to collaborate to tackle food price volatility and food insecurity. I emerging economies, including Brazil, China, and India, gained a stronger voice in international decision-making while also pursuing their own national agricultural development plans.
IFPRI concluded that agriculture and food security will need to remain high on the global agenda in 2012 to avoid renewed crises. It warned that without preventative action, several hot spots of food insecurity could erupt into food crisis in 2012, especially in Africa’s drought-prone Sahel region, which includes Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Senegal. These and other countries will need investment and planning help from the international community, to prevent famine, socioeconomic unrest, and backward progress in their food and agriculture systems.
What do you think? In what ways can agriculture help to reduce food security? Let us know in the comments section!
Laura Reynolds is a research intern with Nourishing the Planet.
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