Thursday, May 08, 2008

FAO Gets it

I've been arguing for the last couple weeks about the importance of paying attention the benefits the so-called "food crisis" could bring to those whose livelihood depend on agriculture. After many failed strategies to improve the lives of those in rural areas, high food prices may turn out to be the right incentive to make farmers more prosperous. Yet, local goverments and institutions, the donor community and research stations must play an essential role in ensuring that such opportunities are materialized. In the words of FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf “To ensure that small farmers and rural households benefit from higher food prices, we need to create a favourable policy environment that relaxes the constraints facing the private sector, farmers and traders,”. Diouf: world must seize chance to boost agriculture

Now, keep in mind that this is not an option for the bast majority of the poor living under very vulnerable circumstances, specially in West Africa and South Asia. They tend to be net food consumers, so price increases affect directly their spending habits, resulting in less quantity and less quality of food. This is more prominent in urban and periurban areas where food prices are more connected to the international market. For such populations, the UN guidelines are a good starting point on how to deal with the crisis.

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