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The global food crisis is also a crisis of food governance. With an estimated increase of 105 million hungry people in 2009, there are now 1.02 billion malnourished people in the world, meaning that almost one sixth of all humanity is suffering from hunger (FAO 2009). But the problem is not that we don’t produce enough food. There is enough food for everybody but decades of globalization with respective deregulation, speculation on the commodity markets, climate change and inadequate food and agricultural policies and respective models of production have led to massive problems in producing food in a sustainable way and distributing food fairly.
Most of the food globally is produced by small-scale farmers, women, and farm workers. And yet they are steadily losing access to, and control over food producing resources such as land, water, seeds and livestock breeds. Anticipated profits from the agro-export business and the increase in agro-fuels investment and rising food prices have triggered a strong demand for land and water to expand monocultures and industrial agriculture as well as widespread land grabbing. This development, together with other factors such as armed conflicts, extractive industries, tourism, industrial and infrastructure projects, climate change, and accelerated urbanization have led to more uncertainty of land and property rights of rural communities.
To meet those challenges we need a new governance framework. The current norms and regimes governing food issues need to be altered; it is necessary to reflect on the models of production and management that should be promoted, the problems around access to natural resources and the major actors that will need to be involved. It is necessary to seriously involve several additional actors in the new food and agriculture governance systems. Small-scale farmers should no longer be viewed as a problem, but as central actors in boosting food production and preserving the environment. Their and other marginal voices need to be taken more seriously. They should be viewed as key change agents, while agriculture should be seen as an – and perhaps “the”– engine of growth and poverty reduction.
Author: Lidija Knuth (1 Articles)