Commemorating World Food Day

October 16, 2008
Food Distribution in Pakistan

About the Author: Charles J. Perego works in the Office of Multilateral Trade Affairs and Agriculture at the U.S. Department of State.

Today is World Food Day, and it’s worth looking back on the last year of monumental challenges to global food security. In 2007 and 2008, food prices spiked, threatening to push millions into poverty. These were the new hungry: not victims of famine or shortage, but people priced out of local food markets. Riots erupted in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Haiti, the Philippines and Senegal. Some food producing states limited their exports to protect their domestic population, which drove grain prices even higher. In April 2008, the UN World Food Program (WFP) warned of a $755 million shortfall. WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran appealed to governments around the world to fill the gap.

The world responded. The United States immediately released $200 million worth of food aid from the Bill Emerson Trust. On May 1, 2008, President Bush announced that he was asking Congress for an additional $770 million to support food aid and development programs. Since mid-April, in response to President Bush’s commitment to provide additional resources and with strong support from Congress, the United States has provided over $1.8 billion in new emergency and development assistance to combat the food crisis. The United States is on track through 2009 to provide almost $5.5 billion in a strategy that includes immediate food aid, development assistance to rapidly increase food production and long-term measures to address the underlying causes of the food crisis. Canada pledged to supply $230 million in food aid this year. Both France and Japan pledged $100 million each to the World Food Program. The United Kingdom has pledged $910 million package to address the food crisis. The European Union is considering donating their agriculture budget surplus, around one billion euros, to food aid.

As an intern at State, I have spent most of my time working on the food crisis. It has been encouraging to see how quickly governments responded to the needs of the world’s hungry. We worked hard to obtain strong commitments from the G8 meeting in July. We formed a Department task force, which is working with other agencies to implement a government-wide food security strategy.

But, challenges remain. Today, 37 countries scattered throughout every region of the world are enduring localized food insecurity, lack of access or shortages of food production. More than 850 million people are undernourished. Grain prices are forecast to stay high through 2009. Barriers to markets need to be reduced so farmers can respond to high prices by increasing production. This in turn will boost food supplies and moderate prices. We need to invest in agriculture and food distribution networks, as well as boost productivity in places like Africa to guarantee future food supplies. After we commemorate World Food Day this year, let’s continue to keep the spotlight on food security until world hunger is truly a thing of the past.

Comments

Comments

Takashi
|
Japan
October 17, 2008

Takashi in Japan writes:

China's been pretty coward to our security on food.

We must overcome.

Japanese male, 42.

Donald
|
Virginia, USA
October 18, 2008

Donald in Virginia writes:

18 October 08

PEOPLE STARVING IN THE WORLD!!!!

What a tradegy it is for people in the world to go hungry!

People in those foreign countries need to be taught how to grow crops, how to cultivate and use the land properly. The need farm equipment. Those aid programs send food but that alone will not solve the food crisis for people! They need to become farmers. The right equipment, the abundance of seed, fertilizer and water. Continue sending just food and nothing will ever be accomplished. They need more than food... They need the skill to turn the land, grow corn, vegatables, that they can eat and sell in the market.

Another tradegy is when Governments pay people NOT to grow. How many Governments today are guility of paying farmers not to grow crops! Which could of been a blessing for people around the world who could of used food!

Who conducts an audit of those non-profit companies that claim they help feeding people? All companies and all Governments who receive funding, should ensure the food, farm equipment reaches the right people! Once again, more checks and balances need to be done in those countries to ensure the rebels are not getting the goods first!

God bless and I hope and pray for those people who need food to get planting, cultivate, and grow crops to survive!

Takashi
|
Japan
October 20, 2008

Takashi in Japan writes:

I totally agree to you, Donald.

I have the same opinion.

Takashi
|
Japan
October 21, 2008

Takashi in Japan writes:

However, a Chinese high ranking official made a comment to the poisoning of food products manufacured in China that; Japan heavily relies its food resources to China. So never mind about a fraction of poisoning products exported to Japan.

I think we will turn away from all the Chinese products for it can't be trusted.

Donald
|
Virginia, USA
October 21, 2008

Donald in Virginia writes:

21 October 08

@ Takashi in Japan -- I think what might solve that problem about the poisoning of food. Japan needs to have a method of testing the food before its sent to the markets.

If you don't test your food you would never know how fresh, or what a country is doing to your food. Especially, when purchase from another country like China.

At your Ports there should be a testing facility designed to check the quality of the products your country is buying from China. This way you know 100 percent what or how preserved the products are for your people. It will also clue you in on the contractor who is selling you the goods, and his/her reputation of the goods.

This would also increase a check and balance system for the Chinese people, then they know your checking the goods ensuring its safe for consuption. Then if your getting bad goods you shouldn't have to pay for it! You should also encourage China to check the goods before it departs.

Then if you prove the food is damaged, by all means cancel the orders. Above all you should buy fresh, good food from countries. Never pay for spoiled or poisoned food for your people.

This would put China on notice to ensure they are providing 100 Percent Quality products to Japan. Demand Quality since your paying for it!!! Never accept less, or anything that would be harmful to you people!

God bless and I hope it all works out!!!

Takashi
|
Japan
October 21, 2008

Takashi in Japan writes:

Thanks a lot, Donald, thanks a lot.

As you mentioned, testing is a matter on our side, and it must be done perfect to protect our consumers, including myself.

Recently, there has been a lot of cheating concerning the food products by the domestic companies within Japan, and this could have been a trigger to the food poisoning by China, no one knows, but anyway, I can't stand this kind of terrorism.

I believe your advice will work a lot to bring about some kind of a solution.

I wrote too much on boycotting Chinese products. They did this before the WW2 to our products and it will never bring anything good. Presently, a whole lot of products are imported to Japan which are made in China, and they are all good. I think my PC is also made in China, and it's working good.

Therefore, I was sad about the food incident, but by following your advice, I think we could bring about even better relations. The incident was also a fault on our side.

Donald
|
Virginia, USA
October 28, 2008

Donald in Virginia writes:

28 October 08

@ Takashi in Japan -- You are quite welcomed Mr. Takashi!!!

Everyone in the world should have good quality food. I hope it works out for your country. In reference to China, I hope there able to ensure the goods they send are of good quality! We eat chinese food in the United States, I personally never had a problem. It always tasted very good of Asian delite!

Good Day Sir!

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