Food Prices: Countries Urged to Expand Food Production as WTO Downgrade Trade Forecast to 3% in 2022

To prevent the acceleration of acute food insecurity trends in the coming months and years, the United Nations has stressed the importance of expanding food production at the country-level by providing cash and critical inputs for cereal and vegetable production, as well as protecting livestock with treatments, vaccinations, feed and water.

This was emphasized at a United Nations Security Council meeting, held in New York, and chaired by the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The meeting, which also saw the participation of UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres and the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) posited that agriculture was key to lasting peace and security.

However, speaking at the UN Security Council debate in New York entitled, ‘Maintenance of International Peace and Security – Conflict and Food Security’, the Director General, FAO, QU Dongyu noted that conflict remains the main driver of global hunger.

“Agrifood supply chains and value chains must be strengthened with the engagement of the public and private sector in support of smallholder farmers and households,” he said.

Qu also called on the global community to allocate new resources to sustain agricultural production in challenging contexts and to invest more in innovation and new technologies, especially in water management, and in more transparent market information systems.

“Members urgently need to transform their agrifood systems to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient, and more sustainable for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life – leaving no one behind,” QU said.

Similarly, in meetings last week with the heads of leading UN System international agencies, WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said that cooperation on trade would be critical to addressing global challenges such as high food prices and the ongoing pandemic.

DG Okonjo-Iweala shared her views with international agency heads on key issues ahead of the upcoming 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), to be held between 12-15 June 2022 in Geneva.

During a conversation on the state of the world, DG Okonjo-Iweala pointed to the ongoing crises in international security, food, environment and climate, public health, and the world economy. 

She noted that the WTO had had to downgrade its trade forecast, with merchandise trade volumes now projected to grow three percent in 2022, compared to the four point seven percent forecasted last October. 

Despite the economic and political headwinds facing trade, the DG said, “trade is very much part of the mix of policy solutions required to deliver the equitable growth, job creation, and environmental sustainability people around the world need.”

She added: “Delivering such results is critical for rebuilding public confidence in international cooperation and multilateral institutions. This is why I have been urging governments to invest in the multilateral trading system and the WTO — starting with a successful 12th Ministerial Conference in Geneva next month.

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