Investing in African farmers is a vital part of a comprehensive global response to the crisis brought on by high food prices, which is “literally a life and death issue” for millions around the world, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.
“The steep rise in food prices is putting countless lives at risk,” Mr. Ban told at an event focusing on the global food crisis, held at United Nations Headquarters in New York on the sidelines of the General Assembly’s high-level meeting on Africa’s development needs.
Many countries – especially in sub-Saharan Africa – lag behind in their attempts to achieve the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, and the current food crisis only threatens to worsen the situation.
“The news remains grim, particularly in the Horn of Africa, where the number of people at risk is still rising,” he stated, adding that while food aid is essential as a temporary measure, it must be followed by long-term solutions.
Given that the majority of Africans live in rural areas where small farmers are the main food producers, it is vital to address the difficulties they face in production, noted the Secretary-General. “Increasing investments in agriculture and the rural economy is a necessary first step.
“Investing more will help small farmers adopt new technologies and modern farming methods. It will help provide agricultural extension services, more storage facilities, better roads access to markets,” he explained.
Earlier this year, Mr. Ban set up the High Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis, which developed the Comprehensive Framework for Action involving the UN, donor countries, civil society and the private sector.
He stressed that with the right combination of policies, technologies and investments, food security can be achieved, calling for a “green revolution” in Africa similar to the one seen in Asia.
“Demand for food in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to double by 2015 from its level in 2000,” he noted. “We have to make sure that African farmers are at the forefront of meeting this demand.”