Trade at the heart of food security

16 October 2012
ITC News
WEDF 2012: The first plenary session at the second day of WEDF 2012 is dedicated to food security to coincide with World Food Day.

Food security was on the agenda at the first plenary session, ‘Improving Commodity Supply Chains for Greater Regional and Global Food Security’, of the second day of WEDF 2012. A complex problem that affects all countries, it coincided with and gave panellists an opportunity to give their input to World Food Day.

Setting the scene, Ms Emma Hippolyte, Mininster for Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs of St Lucia, described the food security situation on her Caribbean island. There, agriculture’s share of GDP has fallen from 5.6% in 2000 to only 1.4%. Loss of markets because of WTO decisions that determined preferential trade agreements were non-compliant with trade rules, she said, had resulted in increased unemployment. Ms Hipplyte said, however, that her Government is determined to modernize the sector and bring people back into sustainable agriculture and mechanisms have been put in place to ensure proper nutrition for all citizens.

Mr Harry Hanawi of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that, while his country is huge, it is still importing large amounts of staple foods. For Indonesia to achieve food security, he said, it needs to strengthen agricultural practices and so increase yields.

The session also hear calls from Mr Gavin Gibson, Executive Vice-President and acting Executive Director of the International Pulse Trades and Industries Confederation, for 2016 to be declared the International Year of Pulses to raise awareness of how pulses can help feed the world. He argued that pulses – such as peas, lentils and chickpeas – could play a significant role towards achieving food security.

Meanwhile, Ms Valentine Rubwabiza, Deputy Director-General of the WTO, argued that while trade alone is insufficient to deliver food security, it is indispensable for the access and affordability of food. Agricultural policies, she said, are crucial in facilitating the role of trade in linking supply and demand. The more obstacles to trade, the more difficult it is to make food available and affordable, she said.

Read the full summary of the third plenary session: Improving Commodity Supply Chains for Greater Regional and Global Food Security.