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Panel Examines Global Food Security Ahead Of La Francophonie Summit; Global Fund, UNAIDS Call For Greater Cooperation Among French-Speaking Countries

World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy highlighted concerns about the global food situation on Friday during a roundtable discussion on the sidelines of the International Organisation of La Francophonie summit, Agence France-Presse reports.

“Today’s situation is not good and it may get worse in the coming years because of population growth, dwindling available (farm) land and a change in food habits,” Lamy said. “Food security is a moral and political must,” he added (10/23).

Panel participants also included Nestle CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe and Djibo Bagna, president of the West African farmer and food producers group ROPPA, swissinfo reports. Panel participants “offered reasons why people around the world are still malnourished.”

“Brabeck said neither climate change nor commodity speculation were responsible but over population. Lamy said agricultural investment, eradicating poverty and waste, and bolstering international trade are key to solving the problem,” according to the news service (10/22). Brabeck-Letmathe also “warned of increasing purchases of arable land in Africa by countries like China and South Korea,” AFP writes. “Is this positive for African farmers? I doubt it,” said Brabeck-Letmathe. “This is a big challenge which should be resolved quickly, or it will be too late,” he added (10/23).

Blaise Compaore, the president of Burkina Faso, said climate change played a role but noted that technology and better trade could encourage producers to be more efficient, swissinfo reports. “You need to be able to sell to be able to produce,” he said (10/22).

Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said it was a “scandal” that “1.5 billion people (…) are suffering from hunger.” She added, “But this is not a question of fate (…) for as long as there is a political will, priorities and the general conditions for trade in basic foodstuffs can be set,” according to AFP (10/23).

Also ahead of the meeting, the “Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and UNAIDS on Friday called on French-speaking countries to do more to fight the diseases,” a second AFP article reports.

Better cooperation between the International Organisation of La Francophonie’s 70 members would result in more “competence and experience,” according to a joint statement from the Global Fund and UNAIDS. “The Francophonie is a key forum which groups donor countries of the Global Fund and countries that receive funds,” said Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund. “It is an essential bridge between North and South,” he said.

“Global Fund and UNAIDS experts agree that least developed French-speaking countries are not underfunded compared to their English-speaking counterparts,” AFP notes. “These countries have 13 percent of HIV cases in the world and receive 20 percent of the Fund’s AIDS aid,” said Stefan Emblad, head of the Resource Mobilization Unit at the Global Fund. A lack of skills associated with projects in Francophone countries was a bigger problem than a lack of funding, Emblad said (10/23).

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