Tuesday, May 26, 2009

[PBN] UN says Pacific farmers need proper pay

From: ABC Radio Australia -  22/05/2009
The head of the UN's peak food body, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, says the world can only meet it's escalating food needs if farmers are better paid. FAO Director General, Jacques Diouf, was in Niue for a meeting with south-west Pacific agriculture ministers to discuss food security measures. On his way to Niue, Dr Diouf visited Canberra and spoke to Linda Mottram.
Quote of interview between Linda Mottram and Dr Diouf
Presenter: Linda Mottram, Canberra correspondent
Speaker: Dr Jacques Diouf, Director General, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation
MOTTRAM: The meeting of agriculture ministers from fourteen south-west Pacific countries is held every two years. They aim to identify national and regional agriculture and fisheries priorities for the coming two years. This year's meeting though comes at a critical time with food security issues made more complex by climate change, but also by the impact of the global economic and financial crises. The Food and Agriculture organisation's Director General, Jacques Diouf.
DIOUF: The economic and the financial crisis would be expected to increase the number of hungry people by more than a hundred million in 2009.
MOTTRAM: On top of that, the world's population is forecast to reach 9 billion by the year 2050. To feed them all, current levels of food production would need to double. But to make that possible, Dr Diouf says, farmers have to be paid properly and the global downturn can only make that harder.
DIOUF: What we are saying is that we need to guarantee to farmers an income that is comparable to workers in secondary and tertiary sectors because if you don't do it, why should they continue to stay in agriculture, yet we need the farmers because around the world there are one billion persons who do not have adequate access to food.
MOTTRAM: The issues will be central to a meeting of all the members of the Food and Agriculture Organisation when it meets in Rome in November.
And the difficult question of biofuels is certain to be included in the discussion. Dr Diouf says there's no doubt that the diversion of 100 million tonnes of cereals for biofuels has had an impact, particularly on the price of food. But he says the production of biofuels in itself is not necessarily the main problem.
DIOUF: But the policies around the production of biofuel and in particular the subsidies and the different systems of tariffs that are being applied by some countries and that are creating additional distortions on the market.
MOTTRAM: And Dr Diouf wants those countries repsonsible to make changes with food security in mind. In the meantime, the FAO is working in the Pacific to try to shift the agricultural focus back to the environment, sustainable livelihoods and quality of life. Aquaculture, Dr Diouf says, is an important issue for future food security in the region.
Much more in the longer term though will hinge on the much bigger picture as the financial and economic crisis play out, and as government's contemplate what they're willing to do about climate change, ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December.
Check for earlier Pacific Biofuel posts: http://pacbiofuel.blogspot.com/

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