Bold food security initiative needed from G8

Published: 16th May 2012

Washington, DC— On the eve of the G8 Summit, international agency Oxfam called on world leaders heading to Camp David to make predictable, measureable funding and policy commitments that will help 50 million people lift themselves out of poverty through sustainable, small-scale agriculture by 2015.

Almost a billion people on this planet — one in seven of us — are hungry. The kind of hunger that pushes men to leave their families in search for work, forces mothers to choose between food and medicine for their children and prevents the healthy development of a new generation. At Camp David, the leaders of the eight richest countries can build on their previous commitments and partner with developing countries to urgently tackle hunger.

“From the Horn of Africa to the Sahel, farmers and herders, especially women, around the world are working tirelessly to overcome hunger in their communities, doing battle with high food prices, insects and erratic weather,” said Oxfam’s Gawain Kripke. “This week at Camp David, we hope the G8 will join smallholder farmers and developing countries to fight hunger by delivering on their previous pledges and recommitting for the future.”

Three years ago, at the G8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy, President Obama rallied the leaders of the world’s richest countries to promise to invest $22bn dollars over three years through country-led plans for food security. A number of countries have developed sustainable and coordinated plans for food security and agricultural development; they now need a partner to help get them off the ground.

“At least 30 poor countries have developed plans to improve their agriculture and tackle food insecurity in their communities, but the promise of resources has yet to materialize,” said Kripke.  “The need to channel public sector resources through country plans hasn’t gone away. It’s time for the G8 to live up to their end of the deal, and put the money on the table.”

Worryingly, there are indications that the G8 leaders will look to the private sector to step in to make up for their shortfalls, despite the fact that the private sector is simply unlikely to make the scale or kinds of investments needed to fix the broken food system.

“The G8 must not give in to the temptation to make bold and convenient assumptions about the private sector as a development panacea,” said Kripke. “There is no evidence that the growing focus on private sector engagement at the expense of other approaches will truly deliver for the fight against hunger.”

While there is a positive role for the private sector in the fight against global hunger, a resourced public sector is crucial to get the private sector going. Furthermore, the average private sector role in existing country plan budgets is about 5%, and most have no role at all.

“A number of African civil society groups have raised concern about the direction of the G8’s efforts on food security,” said Oxfam’s Lamine Ndiaye. “The rhetoric is all about small scale producers, but they haven’t yet been a part of the G8’s conversation.”

Follow the blogs, photo stunts and more from Oxfam at the 2012 G8 Summit

This week at Camp David, we hope the G8 will join smallholder farmers and developing countries to fight hunger by delivering on their previous pledges and recommitting for the future.
Gawain Kripke
Oxfam America, Director of Policy and Research

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