Kansallisia ruokaturvastrategioita tarvitaan

Ministeri Hautalan puheenvuoro Global Food Price -seminaarissa 26.9.2011. Puheessaan ministeri muun muassa korosti, että  ilmastonmuutos, bioenegiatarpeet, maan köyhtyminen ja muuttuvat ravintotottumukset vaikeuttavat entisestään ensimmäisen vuosituhattavoitteen saavuttamista. [:]

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Honorable Doctor Fan, ladies and gentleman

Today we have an opportunity to discuss the causes and consequences of the increasing food prices and price volatility. As we all know, global food prices spiked in mid- 2008 and remained at the high level throughout 2009 and 2010. By December 2010 the prices had risen again, surpassing even the peaks of 2008. The reasons behind the rapid price increases have been discussed and debated on various forums. There is, however, a common agreement on the fact that between 2000 and 2007, the global cereal demand exceeded the cereal production and the cereal stocks have consequently declined

In 2050, farmers will have to feed a global population of nine billion. Climate change, bioenergy demands, land degradation and changing dietary habits make it even more challenging to meet this demand. Making changes to agricultural production systems, particularly amongst smallholders, is a key means to meeting this demand. Diversified and resilient agroecological models, such as conservation agriculture, agroforestry and organic agriculture all provide potential solutions to this vast challenge 

Food price formation mechanisms and transparency on commodity markets have also an influence on the consumer prices. We should aim at better and transparent information systems on food reserves and tighter regulation of speculation on food commodities.

The soaring food prices have already caused food insecurity that contributes to conflicts and political turmoil in several countries. Armed violence, in turn, has led to reduced production and food losses with an impact on food availability, access to food and nutrition. The humanitarian crisis in Somalia provides evidence of the detrimental effects of a violent conflict connected with persistent drought and high food prices. As a result, 750 000 people are under threat of starving to death in Somalia within the next couple of months and several millions are estimated to need emergency assistance.

The poor households in many developing countries that need 60 to 80 per cent of their income to buy food are the first ones to suffer from the high prices. The reduced purchasing power as a result of the higher food prices has led to reduced dietary diversity, fewer meals per day and less food per meal as well as lower expenditure on healthcare and education among the poor. Children may be withdrawn from school and sent to work. Some people are more vulnerable to food price shocks than others. According to FAO, women-headed households are likely to spend a higher share of their budgets on food than the male-headed households and therefore a jump in prices is likely to affect the women-headed families harder. This is a matter of special concern to all of us.

Ladies and gentlemen

Combating and halving hunger is the global target set in the World Food Summit in 1996 and the first Millennium Development Goal. The progress made since 1996 has been modest, but still positive. A major turn, however, took place in 2008 when the price spike induced an increase in the number of undernourished people. This is an alarming development which threatens to undermine the efforts and progress made so far. It also threatens the realization of one of the human rights, namely the right to food. For an individual, right to food is about being guaranteed the right to feed oneself. This requires not only that the ratio of production to the population is sufficient, but also that food is accessible – meaning that each household either has the means to produce its own food, or has sufficient purchasing power to buy the food it needs.

As food security is a complex and multidimensional issue, countries need to design national food security strategies based on special characteristics of each country. These strategies will direct and support their efforts towards food security and realization of right to food. The participation of all stakeholders, including farmers’ organizations, private sector and civil society, in the strategy preparation processes is essential to ensure their wide acceptance and ownership. The food price volatility is an issue making the preparation of the national food strategies even more important and also complex. Although the main responsibility for food security lies within each country, the national strategy is an important framework to better direct and coordinate also the support of the international community.

Finland speaks strongly for coherence and better coordination in development cooperation. In order to be coherent, we need more understanding of the impact of various policies and actions at the national level and especially on the poorest and most vulnerable people. In the case of food security, we need to tackle with a multitude of problems, some of which call for agricultural development, while others are more about trade, environment, social development, good governance or gender equity. For each problem we need to identify the best remedies and their combinations.

Ladies and gentlemen

The new Committee of World Food Security will convene for its annual meeting in October. Food price volatility is one of the topics of the meeting agenda. During our preparations for the meeting, we are very pleased to have here today Dr Fan from the International Food Policy Research Institute to brief us on the latest research findings on the food price volatility and its consequences. Finland values the work of the Institute very high and I can assure you, Dr Fan, that the excellent reports and documents of your Institute are appreciated also among the Finnish development policy makers. Since Finnish domestic market is a part of the European and global market, we are also looking forward to the presentation of Professor Niemi on the food price development in Finland.

I wish you all a fruitful and inspiring seminar.