May 16, 2012 – On the eve of the G8 Summit, Oxfam called on world leaders to make predictable, measureable commitments to reducing hunger by investing in small-scale agriculture in developing countries.
Almost a billion people on this planet — one in seven of us — are hungry. It is the kind of hunger that pushes men to leave their families in search of work, forces mothers to choose between food and medicine for their children and prevents the healthy development of a new generation.
At Camp David May 18-19, the leaders of the eight richest countries can fulfill and build on their previous commitments to food security.
“We need funding now to head off a growing crisis,” said Oxfam Canada Executive Director, Robert Fox. “The good news is that we know what to do and how to do it. The farmers of Africa, with support from their governments, can feed their nations. The sad news would be if the G8 failed to grasp this opportunity.”
At the G8 summit three years ago in L’Aquila, Italy, Canada’s efforts helped galvanize international support for lasting solutions to hunger. The success of CIDA’s food security programming since then shows the wisdom of the L’Aquila Initiative’s focus on public investment in priorities set by national governments.
Oxfam is calling for a $30 billion initiative to support public investment in agriculture between now and 2015. A Canadian government pledge to continue food security spending at 2011 levels over the next three years, for a total of $2 billion, would form a solid basis for the initiative.
The initiative would be a renewal of the L’Aquila initiative in which leaders of the world’s richest countries promised to invest $30 billion over three years through country-led plans for food security. About 30 countries which developed sustainable and coordinated plans for food security and agricultural development await funds and partnership.
“We must not ignore agriculture’s potential to lift millions of people out of poverty, especially the women food producers who are most in need of support,” Fox said.
There are indications that the G8 leaders will look to the private sector to step in to make up for their shortfalls, despite the fact that the private sector is simply unlikely to make the scale or kinds of investments needed.
“The G8 must not give in to the temptation to make bold and convenient assumptions about the private sector as a development panacea,” said Oxfam’s Gawain Kripke. “There is no evidence that the growing focus on private sector engagement at the expense of other approaches will truly deliver for the fight against hunger.”
While there is a positive role for the private sector in the fight against global hunger, a resourced public sector is crucial to get the private sector going. Furthermore, the average private sector role in existing country plan budgets is about 5%, and most have no role at all.