Food security is a current and future priority for all countries worldwide. Since the food crisis and the G8 Agricultural Ministerial Meeting in L’Aquila, a large number of global and regional food security initiatives have been launched or strengthened in response. While these developments are welcome, improving policy and implementation coherence is essential to ensure programs have the desired impacts. As the food crisis of 2008 showed, governments, businesses, scientists and civil society need to focus on the sources of our food and nutrition security. To avoid such events, all these groups must work together to enable the millions of farm families, especially smallholders and women farmers, to increase crop production sustainably through the maintenance of effective markets, more collaborative research, and deliberate knowledge sharing.
The fertilizer industry is committed to building alliances and partnerships that will enable farmers worldwide to have access to inputs, knowledge, technologies and capacities. The International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA), as co-chair of the Farming First coalition, started the mapping and analysis of these many initiatives and called on G8 leaders who met on 25-26 June 2010 in Muskoka to:
- promote a clear joint focus on a common goal for food security at the global level through policy and operational coherence;
- encourage increased transparency on how much of pledged funding has been committed and to what types of programmes; and
- engage a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that efforts are coordinated, clear, collaborative and ultimately
Among the 16 initiatives that are listed in the Farming First Guide to Food Security Initiatives, IFA and Farming First are closely monitoring the developments of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Task Force on Global Food Security Crisis, the Committee on World Food Security and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program. For some of these initiatives, IFA participates with its partners as an observer or may be consulted on a more informal basis.
IFA belives that agricultural productivity has to be improved and food production increased in a sustainable way to find short and long-term solutions to food security worldwide. Central to increasing agricultural productivity are agricultural inputs, and among them fertilizers. The industry insists that increasing yields and protecting the environment can go hand-in-hand by improving nutrient use efficiency and disseminating good agricultural practices, such as fertilizer best management practices and integrated plant nutrient management.
The fertilizer industry believes that:
- Food security is a current and future priority for all countries worldwide
- Farmers need to be at the center of new strategies.
- Governments should invest in their agricultural sectors and policies encouraging investment in developing countries’ agriculture should be supported.
- Governments should devise long‐term agricultural development strategies supporting the development of local agricultural markets and the farmers’ ability to answer market demands.
- Productivity levels in most developing countries have to be raised as much as possible while maintaining and building environmental sustainability.
- Local production should be stimulated by providing farmers with the technology, the knowledge, the market information and the adequate financial services they need.
- Women farmers should become specially targeted recipients because of their vital roles in the agricultural workforce, household food procurement and preparation, and family unit support
- Food security is a complex issue requiring concerted efforts over the long term. International, regional and national policies need to be coordinated and implemented in consultation with farmers.
Through the Farming First platform, the fertilizer industry has been highlighting innovative initiatives implemented by some of IFA’s members to address food security and target smallholder farmers in developing countries. Most of these examples showcase effective public-private partnerships involving a variety of agricultural actors, but also actors from other sectors such as education, research, health and telecommunications. Some projects can be carried out by the private sector alone, but business needs to work hand-in-hand with governments if we want to make a dramatic difference in the lives of millions of people.
IFA’s President, Ajay Shriram, addressed the United Nations General Assembly on June 15, 2010 at the Informal Interactive Hearings with Civil Society, Non-Governmental Organizations and the Private Sector on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in New York. His statement emphasized the role of agriculture and of farmers in achieving the MDGs, in particular MDG 1 of halving hunger by 2015. Mr. Shriram was the only representative of the agricultural
sector. Such events are important for the fertilizer industry to demonstrate its contribution to global issues, such as food security and rural development. In addition, IFA has been actively engaged for the past two years in the climate change negotiations, advocating for the inclusion of the agricultural sector in the framework convention because of its importance to protect food security while reducing agricultural emissions. Promoting the fertilizer industry and demonstrating its importance for the international community is at the centre of IFA’s public affairs efforts.
For more information:
Farming First Guide to Food Security Initiatives: http://www.farmingfirst.org/foodsecurity/
Ajay Shriram’s speech to the UN: http://www.fertilizer.org/ifa/Home-Page/MEDIA/Press-releases-2010/15-June-2010
The six principles developed by Farming First are meant to provide sustainable strategies to secure food security by emphasizing agricultural productivity and sustainability. To learn more about Farming First six principles: www.farmingfirst.org