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ActionAid on G8 Agriculture Ministers' Meeting

Apr 22, 2009, 6:10 AM

The meeting of the G8 and G5 agriculture ministers recently in Cison di Valmarino, near Treviso in the Veneto region of northeast Italy, is the first of its kind and has produced a final document for the G8 leaders' summit in July.

The ministers were asked to come up with concrete proposals to address food security in a declaration by the G8 Summit in Japan in 2008. G8 plans for agriculture need concrete plans to increase investment in small-scale sustainable agriculture and rural development.

According to Action Aid despite some good intentions there were a few missing details in the final communiqué.

Consequently Action Aid is calling for a moratorium on any expansion of biofuels production and the scrapping of subsidies and targets until the impact has been examined.

"The crisis last year revealed the extent of the rot in food and agriculture systems around the globe," said Livia Zoli, Policy Officer with Action Aid, Italy.

"We need long term solutions to hunger, enabling small-holder farmers to be more productive using low input sustainable farming methods."

"There needs to be a shift towards expanding agriculture to feed the increasing number of malnourished in developing counties and a shift away from agriculture to feeding consumers in rich countries.

"We welcome the call for protection against land grabs and leasing but believe there is an inherent contradiction in calling for the expansion of biofuels at the same time.

"Before we move into developing second generation biofuels we need to look at their impact on food prices and local food security. Ministers have failed to acknowledge their role in last year's food crisis."

"Another missing detail - over the past few months, rich nations have been protecting, rightly or wrongly, their sensitive and vulnerable sectors (cars, banks, agriculture, biofuels) whilst insisting that others keep their markets open," Mr. Zoli added.

"So it's hypocritical for G8 ministers to denounce protectionism," he said.

"ActionAid welcomes tough measures on speculative commodity trading and buffer grain stocks, as long as these do not become a means for dumping subsidised food from Europe and the US. The grain stocks need to be both regional and national," the release concluded.