Media Announcement for Launch of
Global Agriculture and Food Security Program
Robert B. Zoellick
President, World Bank Group
April 22, 2010
U.S. Department of the Treasury
GENERAL CHALLENGES WE ARE DEALING WITH:
- For the first time in history, more than 1 billion people go to bed hungry each night.
- The food price increases in mid-2008, and their devastating impact on the poor, only amplified the need to invest in increasing agricultural productivity in developing countries.
- 75% of the world’s poor live in rural areas in developing countries, and most depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.
- Going forward, we face the same urgency: agricultural production must double to feed the world’s projected population of 9 billion people by 2050. At the same time, agriculture must also increase its contribution to mitigating climate change.
ON CHALLENGES FACING SMALL FARMERS AND WHAT THE WBG IS DOING TO ADDRESS THEM:
- Prices have declined from their peaks last year, but major food grain prices are still higher than average. High volatility in food prices, combined with financial crisis aftershocks, threaten to further increase food insecurity.
- The Bank supports the smallholder and works with governments, CSOs, and others to strengthen property rights, support smallholder access to technology adoption, and improve land and water-use efficiency.
- We need to ensure better access to finance for smallholders in rural areas — and make certain that the value chain is as equitable and strong as it can be.
ON INNOVATIVE PRODUCTS:
- Since June 2008, the World Bank offers intermediation services on index-based weather derivatives, which allows clients to access financial markets and transfer weather-related risk to market counterparts.
- We work with our UN partners to enhance national weather forecasting and other tools for timely information to farmers and for disaster mitigation.
- We are helping pioneer new markets for environmental services to provide alternative income to farmers. For example, carbon sequestration, biodiversity offsets, and environmental flows.
ON SUSTAINING AGRICULTURE INVESTMENT GOING FORWARD
- The World Bank cooperates with other institutions, both in emergency response through the Global Food Crisis Response Program (GFRP) and in long-term development programs.
- Investing in agriculture remains a high priority for the World Bank Group. In 2009, our investments in agriculture increased from $4 billion to over $7 billion, and we project them to increase to up to $8 billion annually over the next 3 years.
- Agriculture remains critical for development. The 2008 World Development Report on Agriculture for Development showed that GDP growth in agriculture is about 3 times more effective in reducing poverty than growth in other sectors.
ON THE GAFSP
- We are pleased to respond to the request of the international community to support this new multilateral agriculture and food security initiative as trustee of the Program, host of the Secretariat, and if requested, as one of the implementing institutions.
- The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program will improve the income and food security of poor people in developing countries. It will focus on raising agricultural productivity, linking farms to markets, reducing risk and vulnerability, facilitating non-farm rural livelihoods, and increasing public and private capacity in developing countries.
- This multilateral mechanism will pool resources to enable immediate and flexible responses to country requests and complement existing multilateral and bilateral funding.
- For development to be effective, it is crucial to have multilateral, innovative, and fast-track solutions that enable countries to manage their own food security and promote stronger links between the public and private sectors.
- This is exactly what the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program does.