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European Commission Rolls Out New Food Security Policies; Agricultural Research Conference Concludes

The European Commission (EC) recently announced that it has adopted two new policy frameworks “to help developing countries address food security in emergency and long-term situations” and has called upon member nations to implement similar policies, IRIN reports. 

The humanitarian assistance framework focuses on “response tools to enhance food security, and also spells out EU efforts to tackle acute food insecurity and malnutrition in crises.” The other policy “takes a longer view and spells out the need to support agriculture in poor countries to help them reach the U.N. Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving hunger and poverty by 2015,” the news service writes (4/2).

An EC policy paper (.pdf) outlines an approach to help developing countries achieve food security and recommends that “sustainable small-scale food production should be the focus of EU assistance to increase the availability of food in developing countries,” EurActiv writes. The EC “believes that access to food should be enhanced by creating better employment and income-earning opportunities in both rural and urban areas, especially via diversification and trade, thus making food more affordable for more people. It suggests that in rural areas, new jobs could be created in agricultural processing by small and medium-sized enterprises,” reports EurActiv. The EC makes additional recommendations related to vitamin and mineral deficiency prevention, regional integration opportunities and price control (4/2).

The paper also suggests launching an initiative “to help the African Union accelerate the implementation of the African Land Policy Guidelines, completed in 2009, to secure people’s rights to land,” according to IRIN. The EC has supported reforming the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), a U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization technical committee, “to become the pivotal global institution on food security,” the paper said.

The IRIN piece includes quotes from food and agriculture experts (4/2).

SciDev.Net, IRIN Examine Conclusion Of Global Agricultural Research Conference

SciDev.Net reports on the conclusion of the Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD) on Thursday in Montpellier, France. “Monty Jones, incoming chair of the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR) – one of the organisers of GCARD – said that the meeting marked a historic moment because it brought together more than 1,000 stakeholders to develop a new vision for agricultural research for development. ‘I think it’s the first time we’ve had this kind of collective input,’ he told a media briefing,” SciDev.Net writes, adding that “some delegates from the non-governmental organisations community were sceptical about the extent to which stakeholders will be involved in the process.”

Neth Dano, a programme manager for the ETC Group in the Philippines, said, “From the first day [of the conference] we’ve been saying business as usual is not acceptable but this all looks like business as usual to me.” The article includes feedback from others involved in the meeting.

“One of GCARD’s tangible results is a roadmap for how better to tailor agricultural research to the needs of the rural poor,” the news service reports. “But the roadmap is not a formal declaration, nor is it binding” (Antony, 4/1).

“The crux of the meeting was making science work for farmers and food security, and the answer lay in how to make the science more accessible,” IRIN writes in a story examining the highlights of the meeting, including some of the challenges related to genetically modified (GM) crops.

IRIN continues: “The conference identified eight critical areas of agricultural research, with the development of GM crops as a critical part of the health and nutrition theme. … The other seven research themes were: agricultural systems for the poor and vulnerable; enabling agricultural incomes for the poor; optimizing the productivity of global food security crops; water, soils and ecosystems; forests and trees; climate change and agriculture; and agricultural biodiversity.”

The article includes analysis from Eugene Terry, the first director-general of the West Africa Rice Development Association and an author of an agriculture strategy report released at the conference (4/1). 

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