Global Food Security Forum
Global Food Security Forum Summary Conclusions
The Inaugural Meeting of the Global Food Security Forum (GFSF) brought together in Rabat, Morocco, almost 300 experts, officials, practitioners and stakeholders from over 50 countries for action -oriented discussion and collaboration on the challenge of feeding, in a sustainable fashion, a growing world population.
Through a rich mixture of plenary debates and interactive workshops, the Forum explored the key challenges, and key opportunities that shape the food security debate. The Forum placed a strong emphasis on:
- Understanding the food security challenge in all its complexity;
- Identifying key opportunities and priorities for joint action;
- Leveraging innovation and investment as key drivers of a sustainable solution to the food security challenge.
The Forum produced a call for action across several dimensions of the food security challenge. It also underlined the importance of such meetings to share best practices and exchange ideas. Therefore, the Forum will now operate as a community platform for dialogue and action, and will organize a range of future activities and meetings.
1. Understanding the complexity of the food security challenge:
There was a strong consensus that the “blame game” all too common to recent debates on food security is counter -productive and simplistic. The food security challenges of recent years are the result of a potent mix of long -term drivers and short -term triggers. Efforts to pinpoint one single driver of the food security challenge (speculation, changing diets, input prices, government policies, trade distortions, etc.) distract from the difficult work of untangling, and addressing, the complex mix of factors that drive food insecurity. The Forum’s participants called for more in -depth, fact based and nuanced analysis of the drivers of, and solutions to, food security challenges, with a particular emphasis on regional and local particularities.
2. Improving the image of agriculture as a profitable and sustainable industry
One of the main conclusions of the Forum was that agriculture, as a sector, suffers from a perception gap which leads to a lack of interest from investors, entrepreneurs and young talents. It appeared clearly to the participants that agriculture needs a proactive policy, from the family farm level to the international business community, to improve its overall image as a decisive way to attract investment, innovation and, most important, young and talented individuals. That will shape the sector’s future and thus, contribute to food security.
The GFSF highlighted that agriculture shouldn’t be “taken for granted” and, on the contrary, should be perceived as an attractive, profitable and sustainable sector.
As short term actions, participants proposed to formulate a “global re -branding strategy for agriculture” to make it more attractive at all levels and to launch a “young agricultural leaders program” to identify top young contributors to the sector, give them grants and recognition and invite them to report at the next GFSF meeting.
3. Strengthening the voices of, and cooperation across, the Global South as partners in solving the challenge of food security.
Developing countries are often portrayed as the locus of the problem of food security. The Forum called for more of a focus on how developing countries, working together and sharing experience, can be a key driver of solutions to the challenge. In particular, the Forum focused on how Africa could not only feed its own people sustainably but contribute more fully to feeding the world, and how Africa, India and South America (particularly Brazil) could innovate and collaborate to drive sustainable solutions to food security. Collaboration and mutual learning between southern countries could cover subjects such as the effective targeting of public finance, the promotion of farmers’ organizations and the enabling mechanisms to support agriculture (financing, insurance, infrastructure, etc.).
In the south/south cooperation field, it has been proposed to use the GFSF as a “platform for exchange of information, experience and know -how” among governments and other stakeholders on various topics. For example, participants have suggested to use this platform to help the countries in need of “capacity building” in negotiating and implementing bilateral and multilateral trade agreements in the agriculture sector.
4. Clarifying and strengthening the role of government in food security
While the private sector has a key role to play in food security, the vital role of government also needs proper emphasis. Governments not only create the enabling conditions for private sector investment and innovation and set the rules of the game for international agricultural trade. They also play a central role in setting national agricultural strategies, investing in infrastructure and human capital, managing risk at the national and local level, and fostering regional cooperation to manage food security shocks. Forum participants called for governments, particularly in developing countries, to adopt a multidimensional approach by developing tools and analysis to enhancing farmers’ capabilities. The GFSF also called for governments to meet their standing commitments to invest more substantially in the agriculture sector and put in place the policy frameworks, with a particular focus on international trade policies that will encourage private sector innovation and investment in the agriculture sector.
5. Promoting public and private sector investment and innovation
There was a broad consensus during the GFSF meeting that the dramatic decline in investment in the agriculture sector in the past 30 years, and the resultant lack of innovation in the sector, were a major underlying driver of the food security challenge. Forum participants called for a major effort to promote private sector -driven, and public – sector supported, innovation and investment in agriculture at all levels, from the farm and the local community to the national and regional level.
Particular emphasis was placed on the need for greater support for agricultural and agronomic research, especially in the fields of water and soil management, and the adaptation of that research to the specific market needs and growing conditions of different countries and regions.
In that perspective and with a special focus on African agriculture, training on soil health and maintenance and optimal crop selection as well as research programs on lesser -known crop varieties were identified among actions that could be taken in the short term.
6. Empowering farmers as innovators
The Forum placed particular emphasis on helping farmers, especially in Africa and South Asia, access the information, knowledge, resources, partnerships and new technologies to become much more innovative, productive and adaptive in their agronomical techniques, business models and ways of organizing at the local level.
Particular emphasis was placed on the lessons learned from farmers’ cooperatives and related successes in linking farmers and strengthening both their market power and their linkages to agricultural value chains.
The role of women as the most important factor in promoting food security and developing agriculture was also underlined during the Forum. In southern countries, empowering farmers starts with women. Considering their role in children’s health and nutrition issues, and the fact that they are the main player inside the farm gate, women should be at the center of any holistic food security strategy.
7. Rationalizing, and increasing the effectiveness of international organizations and programs focused on agriculture and food security
The Forum called for a greater effort to rationalize and increase both the amount and the effectiveness of international programs and institutions devoted to agriculture, food security and hunger alleviation. It also called on Governments and international institutions to ensure the effective implementation of their commitments towards the issue of food security, especially those taken by the G20 in the aftermath of the 2007/2008 food crisis.