The road to food security is not a lonely one

Is a global food security policy part of the plan at the Second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD2)? Photo: Neil Palmer.

With world food prices rising by 138% over the past ten years (according to the FAO Food Price Index) and with the UN 2011 World Population Prospects stating that, by 2050, the world population will surpass 9 billion, the challenges of achieving current and future food security in the developing world are brought to the  attention of agricultural research for development (ARD) professionals.

To deepen the dialogue on food security, at the Second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD 2012) in Punta del Este, Uruguay, the discussions bring into the spotlight the need for better “Partnerships  to Achieve Food and Nutrition Security”, focusing on partnerships for “National Food Security“.

The increasing need for partnership in international agricultural research is not new. Days of individual research bodies working as self-contained islands are long gone, but what is new is the ever more complex and dynamic types of partnerships needed to negotiate the full length of the impact pathway.

The various ARD initiatives focusing on improving food security such as The Wheat Initiative or the Global Rice Science Partnership  face similar challenges such as how to link basic biological research at the international level to its application on the ground in specific countries and contexts, or how to work with development actors to ensure that research outputs are taken up and promoted. To address these challenges, ARD initiatives are finding they need to be more thoughtful, systematic and intentional in the way they approach their partnering.

Focusing on multistakeholder partnerships and the role of global food security initiatives on reducing hunger at national level, the “National Food Security” session of GCARD 2012 brings to the attention a key question: How do we coordinate our global efforts for reaching specific regional and national goals?

While development of ARD conducted initiatives is a good start, the focus of such partnerships should be the engagement of all types of stakeholders in grass-roots level projects in order to increase both agricultural productivity and farmers’ competitiveness through innovation, public policies and capacity building. With US – EU or EU – China Cooperation Plan in the field of agriculture being now in place together with other inter-regional level partnerships coming into action and with the adoption and implementation of the G8 Feed the Future Initiative, the need for global coordination of food security policies becomes more obvious.

Such a Global Food Policy can only come into being if all stakeholders groups agree that their involvement is necessary and their engagement is wanted. While surveying stakeholders’ opinion on global food security, it has been observed that, although contradictory on content (such as organic agriculture vs. biotechnology, competitiveness vs. self-sustaining farming), all stakeholders have agreed upon the necessity of introducing a globally coordinated effort.

Should a Global Food Policy be the next step we take in order to ensure food security for 9 billion people by 2050?

Stay updated with happenings at the GCARD2 conference on the GCARD2 Social Reporting Platform

Blogpost by Codrin Paveliuc Olariu, one of the GCARD2 social reporters.

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