Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Global Food News: Food Security and the 2012 G20 summit

Oxfam International demonstration in Mexico City

Monday marked the beginning of the 2012 G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. During this meeting, representatives from the world's 20 largest economies, were slated to discuss key issues including economic stabilization, reform of the international financial system, sustainable development, and alleviation of global food insecurity.

Last Thursday, Oxfam International staged a demonstration near Mexico City's Monument to the Revolution, to urge G20 leaders to create a concrete plan of attack on the problem of food security. Members of Oxfam, asserting that G20 leaders can and should use their influence and access to funding to tackle global hunger, donned masks of G20 leaders' faces, set out a giant lock labeled "food security", and held on to a large key and balloons with pictures of food and dollar signs.  Oxfam, like all of those organizations and individuals seriously concerned with the global food crisis, hoped that this year's G20 conference would be a step toward sustained, vigorous international cooperation on this front.

Though the European debt crisis has been the dominant theme of summit talks, G20 leaders did launch a program called AgResults (a form of this initiative, titled Agricultural Pull Mechanisms, has been running since the Toronto G20 summit in June 2010) on Monday, which operates through the use of "pull mechanisms." AgResults awards those from the private sector who generate products and services that effectively work to solve challenges of agriculture and food security, and then markets and implements their products/ideas. As stated by the World Bank, "Well-crafted pull mechanisms can be used to close the gap between the demand for socially desirable goods and services and their supply by the private sector in developing countries." The UK, the US, Australia, Canada, and Italy (as well as institutions of giving such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) have already pooled USD100 million in funds for AgResults, to be administered and distributed by the World Bank.

AgResults will support and launch pilot programs that fall within four categories: Inputs/Increasing Yields, Outputs/Post-harvest Management, Livestock, and Nutrition. The first round of pilots to be put in motion will focus on building a market for vitamin A-enhanced corn, the distribution of a technology that combats aflatoxin (a harmful fungus that can attack grain before harvest or while it is stored) contamination, and creating incentives for smallholder farmers to embrace and make use of on-farm storage technology.

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