Food Reserves Needed to Respond to Global Food Crisis, Civil Society Groups Say

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Ben Lilliston, (612) 870-3416, ben@iatp.org

Food Reserves Needed to Respond to Global Food Crisis, Civil Society Groups Say

UN meeting in Dublin should focus on addressing agriculture volatility and hunger

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn./DUBLIN - Civil society organizations
today called on governments and United Nations bodies to honor previous
commitments to explore the potential of food reserves to address hunger
and
stabilize agricultural markets. The letter, signed by more than 60
groups, was
presented at a UN meeting being held in Dublin on May 17-18 on the
global food
crisis.

The civil society letter challenged global leaders
to "take
decisive action to address the structural causes of food insecurity and
to
prevent a repeat of recent food price spikes. Food reserves are a
valuable tool
in improving access and distribution of food. They can strengthen the
ability
of governments to limit excessive price volatility for both farmers and
consumers."

The Dublin meeting was convened by the United
Nations
High-Level Task Force for the Global Food Security Crisis. Participants,
which
include representatives from governments and civil society
organizations, will
discuss the task force's Comprehensive Framework for Action.

"Rising rates of hunger, and the loss of rural
livelihoods-particularly
in developing countries-has highlighted the urgent need to act," said
the
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy's Sophia Murphy, who is
attending
the Dublin meeting and will co-chair the working group on trade. "Food
reserves
make sense: putting food aside when it's abundant, to use later when the
need
is greater. Governments have expressed interest in reserves, indeed,
most
governments operate a reserve in some form or another. Now is the time
to get
reserves working the way they should to protect food security and
promote
resilient rural communities."

During the High-Level Conference on World Food
Security in
2008, then again at the World Food Summit in 2009, governments
recognized the
potential of stockholding to deal with humanitarian food emergencies and
to
limit price volatility, calling for a review of reserves. But that
review has
yet to take place. In March 2010, Brazil, Russia, India and China (the
BRIC
countries) also committed to helping countries establish national grain
reserves.

In the letter, civil society groups requested that
the UN
High-Level Task Force conduct a comprehensive review of food reserves by
allocating resources and setting a firm timetable for completing the
review in
2010. Additionally, they called on individual governments to increase
foreign
and domestic investment to achieve culturally appropriate local and
regional
food security reserves; establish an international commission on
reserves, possibly
coordinated by the FAO Committee on
Food Security; support multilateral, regional and bilateral agricultural
trade
rules; and renegotiate the Food Aid Convention to include food security
reserves. The full letter is available here.

Last year, IATP published "Strategic
Grain Reserves in the Era of Volatility,"
examining the potential
role of
reserves in stabilizing agriculture markets. IATP, Collectif Stratégies
Alimentaires
and Oxfam Solidarity will hold a civil society meeting in Brussels on
food
reserves on June 1-2.  For more details see our Food Security
page.

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The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy works locally and globally at the intersection of policy and practice to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems.

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