Addressing the global food crisis as a matter of food security governance the different roles of FAO, WB and UNCTAD with regard to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

Global Food Crisis 4

Addressingthe global food crisis as a matter of food security governance thedifferent roles of FAO, WB and UNCTAD with regard to the MillenniumDevelopment Goals (MDGs)

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Theglobal food crisis is seen as an opportunity through which theinternational community together with the developing nations can worktogether to regenerate international trade and agricultureproduction. The present-day food problems are caused by pastsystematic imbalances in trade and agriculture. With regards totheMDGs, various humanitarian organizations and affected nations areputting efforts to ensure food security. The food crisis wascharacterized by increased food prices. For instance, compared to theyear 2000, price index for cereals hit the highest point at 2.8 and1.9 times high in 2008 and 2010 respectively (Ahmad 2011). Beforethe global financial crisis, media and public directed theirattention to the increased energy and food prices. Internationalpolicy makers and leaders paid attention to the potential wellbeingeffects of the increasing prices for various commodities, includingmaize, soybeans, rice and wheat. Most impacted were people who earnlow incomes as well as countries that depend on imported foodcommodities (World Bank 2011).

Inspite of efforts put forth to ensure food security, it has beenevidenced that the food crisis is faraway from coming to an end. Thisis evidenced by the fact that, since 2009, food prices started torise and the trend is continuing until the present-day (Oxfam 2009).The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) continually cautionedabout the issue that has made the poor to continue being susceptible. In 2011, the FAO’s international commodity-price index reached itspeak since the start of food crisis. According to the World Bank(2011), the increase in food prices has forced a projected number of44 million persons to go into poverty (World Bank 2011). In addition,various countries such as Mozambique and some in North African regionhave rioted and protested in the recent past with regards to foodprices. This indicates the severity of the issue and reflects thepersistent effects of rising prices on the most susceptible groups ofpeople.

Thefood crisis has emphasized the intrinsic tensions existing concerningthe agricultural food commodity sector. Different responses havealready been provided. However, more concentration needs to focus onboth short-term, as well as lasting measures (World Bank 2009). Themost pressing priority is making certain that vulnerable groups areprovided with adequate food. Emergency agencies together withhumanitarian organizations are responsible for the aforementionedtask. Nevertheless, long-tern actions include trade and agriculturedevelopment. The UNCTADsuggest real actions and policy measures with regard to agricultureinvestment and trade development at the state, regional and globallevels (WorldBank 2013).

Overviewof the MDGs in Respect of Food Security

TheMDGs comprise a number of development goals which should be attainedby 2015 (Young 2012). The initial goal entails eliminating severehunger and poverty. Global solutions put in place to solve the issueof food crisis and guarantee food security in the affected nationsencompass agriculture development and sustaining nutrition(Vandemoortele 2009). Nevertheless, for a long time, they have beenneglected. The goal of eliminating hunger has not contributed greatlyin drawing attention to food crisis. After MDGs were launched, anumber of global initiatives were put in place. To start with, theComprehensiveAfrica Agriculture Development Programmewas established for the purpose of boosting agricultural GDP by 6percent every year as well as public development in developingagriculture (Braun,Swaminathan&amp Rosegrantn. d). Donorgovernments dedicated themselves in strengthening agriculturalinvestments as that was the only way in meeting the MDG hungertarget. Other efforts include the establishment of the Alliance forGreen Revolution in Africa (Fukuda-Parr &amp Orr 2014).Itsvision was to make sure that Africa feeds itself as well as the restof the world. Increasing agricultural productivity boosts foodproduction enhances nutrition and amplifies farm incomes. The endresult is elimination of hunger and poverty.

Inline with the MDGs, various humanitarian organizations have played akey role in solving the issue of food crisis as a matter of foodsecurity governance. They include the World Bank (WB), Food andAgriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Conference onTrade and Development (UNCTAD). The roles of the three organizationsare explained herein in detail.

Rolesof the FAO

TheFAO is a UN agency whose main responsibility is to lead globalefforts in eliminating hunger (United Nations 2008). The agencyserves both developing and developed nations. It serves as animpartial forum through which all countries meet to discuss anddebate agreements and policy respectively. Another responsibility ofFAO is assisting developing nations renovate and enhance fisheriesand agricultural practices (FAO 2005). Through this, the agencyguarantees food security and nutrition not only for such nations, butfor the world in large. FAO has more than 194 member countries, inconjunction with other member organizations such as the EuropeanUnion (United Nations 2008).

FAOwas among the initial agencies to predict amplification in foodprices. In 2007, 17 million US dollars was put aside to deal withsuch increases (FAO 2008a). During the onset of the crisis, theinstitution requested for over one billion US dollars with theintention of acquiring money in order to support the poorest farmersattain needed supplies for growing increased amounts of food. In1952, the agency established the InternationalPlant Protection Convention(IPPC) whose purpose is to prevent the global spread of plantdiseases as well as pests (Oxfam 2009). Some of its functionsencompass maintaining records of plant pests, following the spate ofpests and coordinating technical support among member states (Van2008).

Theagency has an investment centre hosted by its technical cooperationdepartment. The centre aims at enhancing more agricultural investmentas well as rural development by assisting developing nationscategorize and make sustainable agricultural programmes, policies andprojects (FAO2012). FAO organizes funding from different multilateral institutionsincluding regional development banks, the World Bank as well asglobal funds.

In2002, the agency conceptualized the Globally Important AgriculturalHeritage Systems (GIAHS). It is a partnership initiative, whosepurpose is identifying, supporting and protecting GIAHS as well astheir livelihoods, landscapes, agricultural and linked biodiversityand knowledge systems throughout the globe (Fukuda-Parr2012). The GIAHS partnership understands the significance of farmingcommunities and directs its focus in rural development andsustainable agriculture (Fukuda-Parr2012).

Rolesof the World Bank

In2008, the World Bank played a key role in dealing with theinternational food crisis. It established the GlobalFood Crisis Response Program(GFRP) to assist the affected states in addressing the pressing issueof food crisis. It also encourages agricultural policies with the aimof amplifying resilience in the coming days. During this period, GFRPresources funded operations that amounted to more than 1.6 billion USdollars, reaching 66 million susceptible persons in 49 nations,particularly in Africa (World Bank 2013). The global developmentreport released by the World Bank in 2008 centered on agriculture fordevelopment (World Bank 2014). The action highlighted a significantshift in the institution’s global focus. The report was employed bythe GFRP as a framework for implementing procedures to speed up thefunding of programs and projects to a tune of 1.2 billion U.Sdollars. The funding was increased to 2 billion US dollars in 2009(World Bank 2012). The funds were focused in eliminating hunger byfeeding susceptible individuals including children, buying seeds forplanting for next season and helping in food imports by meeting extraexpenses. External trust funds also play a role in increasingfunding. For instance, the Multi-DonorTrust Fund(MDTF) has obtained huge contributions from various governmentsincluding Spain government (€80 million), Australian government(AUD 50 million) and Canada government (CAD 30 million) (World Bank2014).

Atthe pinnacle of the food crisis in 2008, GFRP took urgent efforts insolving the issue. Such actions encompassed increasing socialprotection, strengthening the fiscal space of the impacted nations,as well as sustaining medium- and short-term production of foodcommodities (World Bank 2009). The bank focused its funding towardsthe most susceptible and poorest nations, as such were in dire needof food to alleviate hunger.

TheAgricultureAction Plan: FY2010-12was released by the World Bank in 2009 (World Bank 2014). The plandeveloped on ideas delineated in the Agriculture and DevelopmentStrategy of 2003 and the Research of the Rural Poor. The plan aimedat implmenting agriculture in order to ensure development. Thepurpose of the Action Plan is to illustrate the bank’s dedicationto food security by enhancing agriculture, supporting economic changeand increasing incomes among the poor. The structure of theAgriculture Action Plan centers on five areas which encompass thefollowing.

  • Boosting agricultural productivity: It entails supporting amplified adoption of enhanced technology such as livestock breeds and seed varieties. It also supports enhanced agriculture water management as well as innovation systems.

  • Connecting farmers to available markets and supporting value addition: In this case, the purpose is strengthening organizations owned by the producers, investing in transport infrastructure to simplify transport of food commodities, enhancing access to financial resources and enhancing market information.

  • Lessening risk and susceptibility: This is achieved by supporting social security nets, which enhance the management of food imports, safeguarding against disastrous loss, inventive insurance products and decreased jeopardy of key outbreaks of livestock diseases.

  • Improving environmental sustainability and services: This is achieved via enhanced rangelands, forestry, watershed and fisheries management. Proper management of livestock intensification and linking enhanced agricultural practices are other ways.

  • Facilitates agricultural entry through improved skills and enhanced rural investments. It also facilitates nonfarm income from the rural areas.

TheWorld Bank supports food security and agricultural working groups.Additionally, it takes a center stage at the UNHigh-Level Task Forceon the international food crisis. WB also plays a significant role inthe working group of the Multilateral Development Banks (MDB) onwater and food security (World Bank 2009). In 2009, the bankestablished a trust fund where agricultural resources were committed(World Bank 2009). The fund attracted both private investors as wellas donor nations throughout the world. Currently, the GlobalAgriculture and Food Security Program(GAFSP) is responsible for managing the fund (World Bank 2014).

Theexpiry of the GFRP processing facility in 2012 implies that the WorldBank cannot longer continue to process newly financed projects underthe facility (World Bank 2013). The bank has also understood thatfood crisis necessitates intensive actions, which surpasses the GFRP.As a result novel instruments to deal with future emergencies havebeen established. They include the ExposureManagement of the IBRD,ImmediateResponse Mechanismand IDACrisis Response Window(World Bank 2011). Besides, the already financed GFRP programs willcontinue to be implemented in order to meet the overall intendedgoals. TheWBGroup Agricultural Action Plan FY13-15 hasalso integrated the GFRP lessons. The plan is dedicated to sustainingincreased lending ranging from 7 to 9billion US dollars every year (World Bank 2014). Italso participates in other global forums such as the G20 and the G8.

Rolesof the UNCTAD

Indealing with food crisis as a matter of food security governance, theUNCTAD has created relevant program and policies. The agency helpsdeveloping nations, which face problems while importing foodcommodities to provide for their citizens. It helps such countriesformulate, implement, and enhance their import policies and reduceforeign exchange overheads related to food imports. Developingnations which are net-food importers benefit greatly from theagency’s project activities. UNCTAD has developed agriculturalpolicy in order to help food-dependent nations design food strategiesand policies to increase production in agriculture (United Nations2008). It encompasses food crops both for export as well as domesticconsumption. In the present-day, the agency’s work has stressed onfood policies which can assist advance the MDGs and mitigate intensepoverty. With regard to this, UNCTAD helps developing nations as wellas key food donors on matters related to urgent management practices.Through this, they offer expertise on responding to pressing foodshortage requirements without dispiriting agricultural developmentand food production in relevant nations.

UNCTADhas stressed the importance for improved agricultural development,particularly in developing nations. The aim is to provide adequatefood to the population, reduce poverty and facilitate nations toemploy their competitive and comparative advantages in trade andagriculture (Ahmad 2011). The agency assists in designing agriculturedevelopment policies founded on a practical lasting strategy topromote the sector. It entails developing institutional capacitysupporting and enhancing the participation of small-scale farmers invalue chains and structuring forward and backward associations. Italso involves advancing sustainable practices in agriculture andsafeguarding the employment of resources. UNCTAD also evaluates thepracticability of cooperation between producers and consumers withthe aim of enhancing international food security (United Nations2008).

UNCTADtakes a center-stage in the formulation of trade rules and policyissues related to trade. After the establishment of Doha Round in2001, the agency has played a major role in evaluating tradenegotiations with regards to their developmental effect and nurturingintergovernmental discussions related to such effects. The purpose isto formulate an agreement on the essential measures to advancedevelopment while offering policy advice and support to nations(Randolph &amp Hertel 2013). For instance, in negotiationsassociated with agriculture, UNCTAD helps LDCs, African nations andsmall economies in discovering and advancing developmental issues.Such issues encompass flexibility of import tariffs to enhance tradeand food security. Taking part in the Doha trade negotiationssupports development and promotes both long-term and short-termaccessibility to food (Longhurst 2011).

In2003, UNCTAD in conjunction with FAO created an applicationconcerning the establishment of a global borrowing system for food(Shaw 2011). The mechanism, referred to as the Food ImportFinancing Facility was aimed at alleviating liquidityrestrictions of developing nations and LDCs, strengthen funding forimported foods and aid in urgent food imports. The agency has takenpart in mobilizing domestic investment in agriculture and has alsoattracted FDI (Wise &amp Murphy 2012). Besides, it has been helpingdeveloping nations with commercial development strategies andpolicies. Through this, UNCTAD promotes food production andagricultural development by facilitating measures and policies thatcatch the attention of private investors. It also offers informationconcerning FDI investment in agricultural production, and how bestpractices and policies could attract such investments.

UNCTADis among the agencies that have foreseen the implementation of AllACP Agricultural Commodity Programme of the EU (United Nations 2008).It has also supported trade programmes for food sector to enhancedevelopment. During the implementation of UNCTAD XII, a number ofadvanced events were organized. They included the Global Initiativeon Commodities. The end result was partnerships and recommendationson realistic ideas and best practices to make products, encompassingagricultural ones, facilitate in development, economic growth andimprovement of wellbeing in poor nations.


Globalfood crisis has attracted the attention of many humanitarianorganizations, national and international government as well aspolicy makers. These groups have endeavored to solve the issue inline with the MGDs goal of lessening hunger among the population.Actions have been taken to solve emergency cases as well as ensurelong-term food sustainability. The current paper has investigated theroles of the World Bank, FAO and UNCTADin addressing the global food crisis as a matter of food securitygovernance. As evidenced, each of the three agencies has played a keyrole and has been at the center-stage since the onset of foodcrisis.FAO is responsible for leading globalefforts in eliminating hunger. The agency organizes funding fromexternal and internal sources that are used incase of emergencies. Italso participates in agricultural investment, as well as ruraldevelopments by assisting developing nations categorize and makesustainable agricultural programmes, policies and projects. The WorldBank provides funding, mobilizes resources from national governmentsand encourages agricultural policies. It mainly focuses on the mostsusceptible and poorest nations as they are in a dire need ofalleviating hunger. It has also formulated Agriculture Action Planwhose aim is to boost agricultural productivity and reducesusceptibility. Lastly, the UNCTADconcentrates on improving trade policy in order to facilitatenet-food importers and LDCs. It has created policies and programs,taken part in trade negotiations and facilitated borrowing andfunding to the countries in dire need. To some extent, these agencieshave helped in reducing hunger but they still need to improve theirstrategies as some countries are still facing the issue of foodcrisis. To meet the MDG of eliminating severe hunger, more practicalefforts needs to be put in place.


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