Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 33 n° 348

Durban’s Mission: Food Security First

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 29 novembre 2011

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Durban, South Africa – On the opening day of the United Nations climate talks in Durban, the pro-development NGO World Growth released a new report urging world leaders to focus on the importance of food security, particularly in Africa, and the critical role of palm oil as an effective strategy to reduce food insecurity. Palm oil as part of the solution is under threat by environmental NGOs, some leading industrialized economies, as well as the World Bank, who seek to halt the conversion of forest land to palm oil and to install sustainability standards that will curtail expansion of palm oil plantations in Africa. The new report by World Growth features a foreword by President J. A. Kufuor, Former President of the Republic of Ghana. President Kufuor writes about the importance for addressing long-standing hunger and food insecurity challenges that have plagued Africa and how the South East Asian experience with palm oil can provide the path forward for Africa: “Poverty alleviation in Africa continues to lag the rest of the world. The rural poor are a large proportion of the food insecure – half of Africa’s food insecure people are smallholders. The problems facing Africans in accessing food supplies are clear. Agricultural productivity is low. Post-harvest losses are high, as are the costs of internal transport and distribution. As a consequence, smallholders are unable to produce enough either to feed their families or to lift them out of poverty. In South-East Asia, commercial palm oil plantations have been highly successful at reducing rural poverty levels, fostering employment for small holders, developing rural infrastructure, and providing a source of inexpensive, staple food for the population as a whole.”World Growth Chairman and former Ambassador to the GATT (the predecessor to the World Trade Organization) made the following observations:“In Africa, several palm oil development projects are in the process of being implemented. If they proceed to fruition, these investments have the ability to increase the local supply of an important food staple, reduce the need for Africa to import substantial quantities of palm oil, provide the basis for a new export industry and, most importantly, boost job creation in a region historically beset by poverty.“Yet this miracle is under threat from Western sustainability standards, championed by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) that will undermine efforts to strengthen food security amongst the very poor, such as smallholders. Efforts in Durban will also seek to instill new policies that enshrine a view that forest land conversion should be halted due to its large contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Data points out this is inaccurate as the levels of emissions claimed by the World Bank and other leading economies is half of what they claim. These actions by Greens like WWF and the World Bank threaten Africa’s food security and should be resisted by developing nations during the negotiations.”

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