Mr Chair, dear colleagues
During the last two and half years, FAO has delivered support to members and provided global public goods as well as direct assistance in response to the worsening global food security situation due to the pandemic, disasters, conflict and climate change. This has been done through a variety of science-based analytical tools, normative work, data, and analysis and rapid response actions.
1. We are gathering today to discuss global food security call to action.
2. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced hundreds of millions of more people into the poverty and hunger trap.
3. The Global Report on Food Crisis released on 4th May 2022 stated that in 2021 193 million people are acutely food insecure and in need of urgent assistance across 53 countries/territories. Projections point to around 329 000 people reaching catastrophic food insecurity (IPC/CH 5) in Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen by the end of 2022.
4. Malnutrition is increasing, too, with millions of children suffering from stunting or wasting. More and more children and adults are becoming overweight or obese. A healthy diet is out of reach for 3 billion people.
5. The budgets of governments and consumers have been squeezed tighter and countries’ income per capita has shrunk, creating a cumulative loss to the global economy of more than USD 12 trillion over two years (2020-21), and setting back progress on the SDGs
6. In March 2022 the FAO Food Price Index reached its highest level (160 points) since its inception in 1990, and has averaged 158.2 points in April 2022 down 0.8 per cent from the surge in March and as a result remains historically high.
7. Now the war in Ukraine could exacerbate global food prices even more. Russia and Ukraine are dominant players in highly concentrated global grain markets.
8. Additionally, the Russian Federation is and had been one of the top exporters in the world of fertilizers. The next planting season of countries which are import dependent on the Russian Federation could be at risk.
9. It is time to transform our agrifood systems to increase their resilience so as to avoid the level of vulnerabilities we face today.
10. It is also imperative to increase our resilience to climate change and to produce better and more with less negative impact on the environment.
11. Therefore, we need agrifood systems to deliver food security for all, to be economically viable, to be inclusive.
FAO Contributions to the Call to Action
12. FAO is promoting the transformation of agrifood systems to be more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable for Better Production, Better Nutrition, a Better Environment and a Better Life for All, leaving no-one behind.
13. This transformation requires action across several domains.
14. First, we must scale up emergency agricultural assistance.
• To boost availability, in addition to providing timely food aid, we must focus more attention on producing nutritious food locally. Currently only 8% of all food security funding in emergencies goes to assist agricultural production.
• We know that investing in agriculture and rural livelihoods is strategic, and 7 to 10 times more cost-effective than traditional assistance.
• FAO needs $1.5 billion USD to support 50 million people in 2022 with urgent agricultural interventions to address acute hunger.
15. Second, invest in agrifood systems. Growth in the agriculture sector is a sure-fire way to cut poverty and hunger in many middle to low income countries.
• Transforming agrifood systems to deliver healthy, nutritious diets, and deliver outcomes that are more equitable will require significant financial investment, estimated at 8% of the size of the agrifood market.
• Investment should also be in hard infrastructure (roads, irrigation, electrification, and digital) and in value chain infrastructure (storage facilities, cooling facilities, banking infrastructure and insurance infrastructure) which we know not only increase access to markets but also reduces inequality.
16. Third, apply science and innovation to revamp our agrifood systems. They can address the interlinked challenges of agriculture with climate change and food security. They can also boost social inclusion.
• Technology and social innovations can help us to increase the efficiency of how we produce, especially in water efficiency agriculture technologies.
• Cutting-edge innovations are emerging in agriculture, such as new breeding techniques to boost crop yields, desired traits, and climate resilience.
• Digital agriculture is another technological and social innovation that can significantly reduce market failures in agriculture and improve the functioning of the agricultural markets. It can boost the effectiveness of extension services, and make farmers more resilient to pests and weather fluctuations
• Innovations in data availability, for example improved fertilizer use efficiency can be achieved with soil maps and improved fertilizer applications.
• Finally, innovation on early warning systems like ONE health approach can help to improve eco-system sustainability.
17. Fourth, we must reduce food loss and waste:
• Currently the high amounts of food loss and waste could feed around 1.26 billion people per year. It also results in a huge negative impact on the environment.
• Food loss and waste deplete our scarce resources and contribute to the climate crisis.
• If we reduce food loss and waste by 50%, there would be sufficient fruits and vegetables available in the food supply to cover the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per person per day (400 grams).
18. Time is short and the situation is dire. By working together we can realize the Agenda 2030 aspiration of a world without hunger.
19. FAO commits to supporting members to answer this call to action with your substantial support.
20. Thank you very much.