Enough Food for All - But G20 Must Bring Down Barriers, Food Experts Say
IPN Press release
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization says there's enough water and land to feed growing demand but it fails to identify the government obstacles which stifle progress, food and population expert Douglas Southgate said today. The G20 meeting in Pittsburgh must make free trade its top priority, he added.
The FAO said in a statement today it was “cautiously optimistic” about food production rising by 70% percent by 2050 to feed an extra 2.3 billion people. But Professor Douglas Southgate, agricultural economist at Ohio State University, said the status quo could lead to a 50% increase in food prices by 2050: “To grow more food per hectare or farm more land, politicians in both rich and poor countries must get rid of the quotas, tariffs and subsidies that prevent development.”
“Ukraine, for example, could double cereal production by 50 to 80 million tonnes of cereal a year – enough to feed 50 million people in China,” he said. But government meddling and limits on exports have kept domestic prices low, meaning that farmers have no incentive to grow more. Similarly, Argentina could easily produce 30 million more tonnes of cereal for export every year – if it weren’t for steep export taxes.
Subsidies in rich countries distort prices around the world: by pampering producers of rice in Japan, cotton in the USA and cows in the European Union, everyone suffers - and the poor suffer most, as ever.
Caroline Boin from the development think-tank International Policy Network said “UN figures show rising protectionism, amid broken promises by the G20 to defend free trade.” She explained: “Governments perversely think protectionism keeps food cheap, so over 40 have applied new restrictions on food trade in the past year. This will make farmers invest less and produce less, meaning prices will rise – for everyone.”