World Food Forum

How the expansion of food trade can help eradicating world hunger by 2030
22 december 2015

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The expansion of agricultural trade can become a key to achieve the eradication of world hunger by 2030. However, to meet one of the main goals in the new post-2015 sustainable development agenda, open trade policies must be applied without endangering food security.

These are the conclusions of the report “The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets 2015” (SOCO), released on 9th december by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“The global trade arena has changed notably in the past decade, with trade in food alone nearly tripling in value terms, driven in particular by fruits, vegetables, fish, meat and dairy products – all high-value categories where standards are typically more important than in staple commodities such as cereal grains”, the FAO said.

Moreover, increased trade in agricultural, fishery and forestry products has become an essential component of most countries’ development strategies. Since trade affects all dimensions of food security and since it is set to expand more and more in the next years, it is crucial to ensure “that the expansion of agricultural trade works for, and not against, the elimination of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition”.

The new edition of this flagship FAO report aims to reduce the current polarization of views on agricultural trade, wherein some insist that free trade leads to more available and accessible food while others, noting the recent bout of volatile food prices, insist on the need for a more cautious approach to trade, including a variety of safeguards for developing countries.

“The role of trade varies enormously with country characteristics, such as income, economic and landholding structure, the stage of agricultural development and the degree of integration of farmers in global value chains”, states the report. “Amid such variety in country conditions, international rules for formulating national trade policies should be supportive of efforts to mitigate disruptions that affect any of the four dimensions of food security: availability, access, utilization and stability”.

That’s why trade reforms should be considered as part of broader policy packages aimed at achieving sustainable development goals, including eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. Global trade agreements on agriculture negotiated by the World Trade Organization need therefore to find a balance between giving nations flexibility in setting policies for food security and not negatively affecting the security of their trading partners: if this balance will be kept, food trade will become one of the keys for the eradication of global hunger by 2030.

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