SEVENTY-one Ministers of Agriculture in Berlin, Germany on Saturday made commitment to promoting the role of agri- food trade in ensuring sustainable agriculture and food systems for global food security, prevention of malnutrition in all its forms and inclusive development.
The ministers met at the 12th Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Conference of the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA). Nigeria was represented at the conference by Abdulkadir Mu’azu, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
“In this regard, we are committed to the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular the goals on “zero hunger” (SDG 2) and “partnerships for the goals” (SDG 17),” they jointly said through a communique issued at the end of the conference.
They discussed how trade in food and agricultural commodities and trade in services for agriculture can contribute to achieving food security for the world’s increasing population, enhancing nutrition and human health, improving farmers’ livelihoods and income, and achieving more sustainable food systems to preserve the planet.
Resolving to address four key challenges relating to food security, the conference lamented that ‘currently more than 820 million people suffer from hunger, and 2.5 billion suffer some form of micronutrient deficiency.’
The ministers expressed worry that by the year 2050, the world’s population which is growing fast is projected to reach nearly 10 billion people.
They however, agreed to foster trade for global food security by strengthening trade rules and transparent and inclusive local, regional and global value chains and promote corresponding responsible investments, in particular in the poorest regions of the world.
“We agree that trade is vital to connect producers and consumers and to supply countries, regions and communities that have a structural food supply deficit, and stress that this will become more acute as risks to food production and quality increase due to climate change and other environmental stresses,” they said.
They equally resolved to make trade work for agricultural development which will support diversification and the adoption of sustainable practices, promote risk management tools, strengthen land tenure rights and invest in infrastructure, innovation, training, education and extension services.
“To harness the benefits of trade for sustainable agricultural development and create new economic opportunities, we commit to help farms, especially smallholders and family farms, become more efficient and resilient to shocks.”
“To meet future challenges, we will foster technological, organisational, social and entrepreneurial innovations in the agricultural sector by opening markets for innovative products and services. We emphasise the leading role of young entrepreneurs in advancing innovations. We will facilitate access to and promote the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to empower all stakeholders across food systems with timely and accurate information.”
Then, they are targeting how to make food value chains inclusive, sustainable and safe, noting that small-scale agriculture is still the main source of food in many countries.
“Smallholders, family farmers and women farmers, in particular, continue to face severe difficulties in accessing markets,” they said.
“Promoting inclusive trade, we will promote policies that enable all farmers to participate in trade. We are convinced that trade can have a positive impact on the economic empowerment of women. Women’s empowerment in food systems can increase women’s incomes and lift numerous families out of poverty.”
The ministers also made commitment to strengthening fair rules in agricultural trade stressing the crucial importance of the multilateral rules-based, open, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non-discriminatory and equitable trading system.
They reaffirmed the principles and objectives set out in the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the WTO in 1995 and the contribution that the WTO has made to strengthen the stability of the global economy.
“We reaffirm the value of taking decisions through a consensus-based and member-driven process at the WTO and we remain firmly committed to this trading system and to ensuring the proper functioning of its dispute settlement system.
“We highlight the need to update global trade rules to reflect market and policy shifts that have occurred in recent years and to address contemporary agricultural and food challenges.”