Rome Summit Seeks to Promote Food Security Worldwide
(USAID’s Moore previews “country-led” efforts to alleviate hunger)
By Charles W. Corey
Washington — The November 16–18 World Summit on Food Security offers a chance to broaden the international coalition working to promote greater food security for the more than 1 billion chronically hungry people who are now at risk worldwide.
Franklin C. Moore, deputy assistant administrator in the Africa Bureau at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and USAID’s coordinator for food security, made that point in a November 13 interview with America.gov just before leaving for the Rome summit, which is being sponsored by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Moore is part of the U.S. delegation attending the event, which more than 60 heads of state and government are expected to attend.
The summit comes in the wake of the 2008 food crisis, which saw record high prices for food and commodities. The crisis stretched food aid budgets to the breaking point and triggered riots from Haiti to Bangladesh.
Moore said the U.S. government hopes “that the summit will endorse the set of activities that have taken place to date, in particular at the L’Aquila Summit, the Pittsburgh G20 Summit” and other events, as a way to combat food insecurity worldwide.
The Group of Eight’s Food Security Initiative, launched in July at the L’Aquila Summit in Italy, aims to provide about $20 billion over three years for long-term farming investment. In a statement, the G8 pledged to “take decisive action to free humankind from hunger and poverty through improving food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture” and to work together to support country-led processes.
Moore said the Rome summit provides “the chance for the global agricultural community to wrap their arms around those things that are being put forward as ways to move … small-farmer agriculture forward so that it can increasingly solve the problems of food insecurity.”
Moore termed food insecurity a “critical problem” worldwide, with 1 billion people considered to be food insecure or chronically hungry.
He said the role of the United States and other donor nations is to “partner with countries … who have sat down to do some planning that includes both government and civil society” to examine both the reasons for and solutions to chronic food insecurity.
Moore called the L’Aquila principles and their country-led approach a “new paradigm” for solving food insecurity through international partnership. The country-led approach means that the process is “led by their thinking and led by them taking an active role in reversing their problem of food insecurity.”
Such an approach, he said, is critically important.
“When one looks at the whole concept of food security … long-term solutions are very dependent upon those around whom the solution is based,” because they understand their own problem as well as the potential solution.
Food insecurity is a worldwide problem, Moore noted, especially in Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia — with North Korea, he said, being a “special case.”
Moore said, “If one were to look at the majority of food insecurity and where we are targeting some of our activity at the moment, that majority of food insecurity can be described as very small farms … predominantly female agriculturalists.
“If we can raise their production and productivity, we can also raise their incomes,” and that goes a long way toward meeting people’s needs, he said.
The United States is the largest contributor of food aid worldwide, he noted. In 2008, USAID provided 2.6 million metric tons of food, valued at more than $2.6 billion, which benefited 56 million people in 49 countries on four continents.
Moore said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was talking about this comprehensive approach to food security when she recently said food aid is not just about feeding people, but also involves key issues such as physical, economic and environmental security.
That approach, he said, “includes a short-term provision” to meet immediate, emergency food needs caused by droughts or natural disasters or floods, and also expands to look at medium-term and long-term solutions to food security.
The first such solution, he said, is to look at small-farmer agriculture and “what changes need to take place … so that it produces more, is more productive, but also leads to higher income for world agricultural populations.”
Those attending the World Summit on Food Security include Pope Benedict XVI, who will deliver a keynote address, U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon and FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://www.america.gov)