Urgent changes in global agricultural policies are needed to meet the threats of soaring food and energy prices, the UN General Assembly P resident Srgjan Kerim has said.
“Reducing subsidies, lifting tariffs and other trade barriers would stimulate food production and offer a route to development for 180 million small farmers in Africa,” Kerim told the assembly which met here to discuss the two global crises Friday.
The proceedings of the meeting were made available in a statement issued at the weekend at the UN.
Kerim said in the statement that, “an urgent and mandatory step at the global level was to ensure a successful outcome to the Doha Round of international trade talks.
” The food crisis therefore offers a win-win opportunity for the international community to collectively agree to policies that promote trade efficiency while a l so boosting agricultural production and reducing the vulnerability of the poorest around the world.”
He also said that the rise in food and oil prices could severely weaken the economies of up to 75 developing countries, quoting research by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The UN General Assembly president noted that the World Bank estimated that rising costs could reduce the gross domestic product (GDP) of up to 50 countries by 3
to 10 per cent, pushing at least 100 million people into poverty.
Kerim therefore called on the 192-member Assembly to adopt a resolution on the current economic threats, saying they require “an immediate, coherent and coordinated response with the UN system playing a central role”.
Also speaking, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that “the double jeopardy of high food and fuel prices threatens to undermine much of the progress made i n achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)”.
To meet the MDGs, Ban called for a Global Partnership for Food, bringing together governments, donors, UN agencies, international financial institutions, business, academic communities and civil society.
The secretary-general also said that between US$ 25 billion and US$ 40 billion would be needed annually to boost agricultural production and to assist farmers around th e world.
He, however, welcomed a proposal by the European Commission for a special funding facility to provide more than US$ 1.5 billion for a rapid response to the glob a l food crisis.
“If we do not seek lasting solutions now, more children will die each day, more families will go to bed hungry. The threats left to the next generation will eve n be greater,” he added.