Global food security is threatened in many and often overlapping ways, including the impact of COVID-19, conflicts and persistent extreme climate conditions, a situation that makes market transparency and policy coordination critical, QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), said today.
“It is essential that countries stop using trade measures that add to price increases and extreme price volatility, and harm those that depend on global markets for their food security,” Qu stressed.
He made the remarks at the opening of the 75th Session of the Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP), FAO’s longest-established technical committee. The CCP reviews global issues that affect the production, trade, distribution, consumption, and prices of food and agricultural products. It deliberates key issues, examines the effects on food security, and makes policy recommendations.
Qu referred to the recently published 2022 edition of The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets (SOCO) that focused on the structural changes in the global agrifood markets, and on the role of trade measures in addressing environmental impacts.
“In spite of the current tendency to trade mostly within regions, multilateral trade remains the most efficient way to promote market access and economic growth for all and only multilateral collaboration can effectively address global environmental challenges such as climate change,” the FAO Director-General said.
He also underlined the important role that trade can play for global food security and sustainability as it promotes food security and nutrition by linking food surplus regions with those in deficit.
Multiple threats to global food security
Qu pointed to a variety of challenges facing the world and their impact on food security, noting that:
- The ongoing conflicts, including the war in Ukraine, are causing increases in the prices of food, feed, fuel, and fertilizers.
- The FAO Food Price Index reached a record high in March 2022 of almost 160 points and has only decreased slightly since then.
- The 2022 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report, released on 6 July, shows that up to 828 million people suffered chronic hunger in 2021. This represents an increase of 150 million since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Qu was clear about the key role trade must play in solving these problems and in achieving the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
FAO’s contributions to market transparency and policy coordination
The Director-General noted that FAO continues to provide valuable support to inform and guide policy decisions, by providing up-to-date and objective information on markets, monitoring policy developments, promoting dialogue, and proposing policy recommendations. In this context, the G20 Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS), hosted by FAO, continues to play a leading role.
He also referred to the 2022 edition of the joint OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook report, which focuses on assessing the medium-term prospects for agricultural commodity markets for the next decade, 2022 to 2031.
Noting that that the global food import bill is on course to hit a new record high of $1.8 trillion in 2022, due to higher prices and transport costs, rather than volumes, the Director-General pointed to FAO’s proposed Food Import Financing Facility to provide balance-of-payment support to the most affected countries.
The CCP is this year celebrating its 75th Session, which runs from 13 to 15 July 2022. The agenda includes a focus on developments in international agricultural commodity markets and an update on the World Trade Organization (WTO) agricultural negotiations and developments in regional trade agreements related to agriculture. It also covers FAO’s programme of work in commodity markets and trade under the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31, The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets (SOCO) 2022, and the Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture (GIEWS).
The CCP is open to all FAO Members, plus observers. The CCP normally meets once every two years, or at the request of its Members.