Today's top stories on global agricultural development and food security issues.
January 26, 2012
By Sung Lee
Today, the World Economic Forum held a panel discussion on ensuring global food security. Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the UN World Food Program, moderated panel of world leaders including Bill Gates, co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Finance Minister of Nigeria; Bruno Le Maire, Agriculture Minister of France; Stefan Lippe, CEO of Swiss Re; and Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever. Bill Gates called on G20 to keep world hunger on the agenda and not to ignore 1 billion hungry. “I believe the opportunity to double or triple [food] productivity is there,” said Gates. French agriculture minister Bruno Le Maire also said, “We are facing in the US and especially in Europe a terrible economic crisis and there is a risk that leaders lose focus on food security. We should never forget that hungry is an economic but also a moral disaster for the world.” Summary of the panel discussion is available here.
Economic Crisis Mustn't Eclipse Battle Against Poverty, says Bill Gates, Guardian, January 26
Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist, has urged national governments not to allow fiscal concerns to overshadow the need for continued investment in the developing world. Gates highlighted the negative impact of food price rises and enlarged on his belief that innovative strategies on agriculture and health – areas he believes are closely interrelated – hold the key to development's future.
Food Security: Dampened Prospects, Financial Times, January 25
Come 2050, the UN predicts earth will be home to another 2bn people; in order to feed us all, production needs to increase by an estimated 70 percent. The prospect of more starving people as staples become unaffordable has put the question of food security firmly on to the top table of global policymaking. Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, made it a central plank of his country’s presidency last year of the Group of 20 leading industrialized and developing nations; Mexico, this year’s G20 chair, is taking up the baton. At the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, several sessions are devoted to the topic.
The Truth About Foreign Aid, Opinion, Bill Gates, New York Times, January 26
The question is, how do we continue to do the research needed to develop these new tools? Poor countries are investing more in their own agricultural sectors, but they don’t have the resources to lead on R&D. Aid is a key piece of the puzzle, and right now the entire research budget of the group responsible for agricultural science for the poorest is just $300 million per year. It’s a shame to see such a high-leverage opportunity generate such ambivalence.
Dispelling Myths About Foreign Aid, Council on Foreign Relations, January 25
U.S. citizens support foreign aid, particularly when it is targeted to alleviating poverty and humanitarian suffering. This is remarkable, given the magnitude by which Americans consistently overestimate the percentage of the federal budget actually devoted to foreign aid. These findings emerge from a newly updated digest of U.S. and international polling on global issues developed by CFR and the Program on International Policy Attitudes.
Wealthy Nations Must Step Up to the Challenge of World Hunger, Opinion, Bill Gates, Seattle Times, January 24
On any given day, a billion people — 15 percent of the world's population — are worrying about whether their family will have enough food to eat that night. Today, many poor farmers still struggle to grow enough food, while contending with new plant diseases and the consequences of climate change. That's especially true in parts of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where a Green Revolution never happened.
Kenya: New Seeds Boost Yields for Drought-Hit Farmers, AllAfrica.com, January 24
At KARI, Ngolania learned about newly developed varieties that could resist drought and yield more produce. In fact, during this past season, he saw the small plot he and his wife cultivate yield five bags of maize for the first time. For thousands of small-scale farmers like these, access to information about seed alternatives can mean the difference between struggling to survive and thriving.