CONCORD called on MEPs to do more for food security at the European Parliament.

The EU must do more to address global food security, CONCORD told a meeting of the Development Committee of the European Parliament on 18th February. The Parliament’s session on “food and agriculture in the world” hosted the presentation of a UN report entitled The State of Food and Agriculture 2012 by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Stineke Oenema, the chair of CONCORD’s European Food Security Group (EFSG), provided the perspective of development NGOs on the topic of food security.

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Kostas Stamoulis, the Director of the Agricultural and Development Economics Division in the FAO who presented the report.

The FAO’s report came to certain key findings.

  • Investing in agriculture is one of the most effective strategies for reducing poverty and hunger
  • Farmers are the largest investors in the agricultural sector, and invest four times the amount of government spending, thus must be central to agriculture investment strategies
  • Good governance must be focused upon as this is a key factor in encouraging farmers to invest

The CONCORD representative welcomed the FAO’s acknowledgement that smallholder famers are the biggest investors in agriculture, a fact that CONCORD believes should serve as a starting point for strategising on how to achieve global food security.

Speaking directly to the MEPs in attendance, she wasted no time in reminding them of their role in driving the process of ensuring food security and elaborated upon the areas that the EU as a whole should be concentrating on to create a conducive environment that is supportive of small farmers.

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Stineka Onema addresseing the EU Parliament

Lack of progress made with the EU Food Security Policy Framework

She was critical of the fact that despite an EU Council request to the Commission almost three years ago to devise an implementation plan for the Food Security Policy Framework (FSPF), a strong document on food security that was adopted in 2010, no significant progress has been made on the implementation.

Food security must be considered in the EU’s ongoing work

With respect to what is currently being worked upon, the Committee of the World Food Security’s (CFS) negotiations and the Commission’s upcoming communication on nutrition were mentioned. The EU was urged to defend a position coherent with a realisation of the right to food in the CFS negotiations while MEPs were requested to produce a report on the coherency with the FSPF vis-à-vis the Commission’s communication on nutrition.

The Common Agricultural Policy should be more development friendly

Remarks extended beyond activity in food security policies; the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was criticised for its trade distorting effects that unfairly hinder small farmers in developing areas of the world, as well as suffering from the issue of sustainability as evidenced through the import of soy required for animal feed, a practice which is devastating the environment. To this end, Oenema called for the MEPs voting in plenary next month to include an independent monitoring mechanism within the CAP and redouble efforts to convince of the development impacts of the CAP to their colleagues in the Agriculture committee.

Food security is affected by several policy areas

The negative aspects of the CAP also highlight the importance of Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) which was described as being something of extreme importance if food security, a multi sectoral issue, is to be achieved. With this in mind, Oenema again called directly upon the MEPs to work with colleagues in trade, agriculture and environment to ensure PCD is being respected. Decisions makers should “analyse trade, agriculture and environmental policies and ensure they are coherent and have a positive impact on food security and the realisation of the Right to Food”

The session then opened to MEPs Charles Goerens (Luxembourg, ALDE and Standing rapporteur on PCD), Ivo Vajgl (Slovenia, ALDE) and Ricardo Cortés Lastra (Spain, S&D) all posing interesting lines of questioning such as the proportion of income that goes to small farmers as a result of higher prices and the pros and cons farmers face with regards to growing only one type of crop against crop diversification. In response to the latter question, Oenema ended the session saying global food wastage is at 30% which highlights the multifaceted nature of the food security debate; the issue stretches far beyond a question of increasing food production.