CHOGM call for removal of trade barriers on food exports

October 29th, 2011 - 7:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Perth, Oct 29 (IANS) The Commonwealth has called for elimination of trade barriers on food exports and for coordinated emergency relief efforts to deal with immediate food crises.

Adopting the “Perth Declaration on Food Security Principles”, the leaders of the 54-nation grouping recognised food insecurity as a major global challenge, especially since half of the world’s one billion hungry are citizens of member-nations.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said the declaration was “a significant response to the food security challenge”, though its adoption was overshadowed Friday by a row over the creation of a Commissioner of Human Rights, which was effectively stalled by opposition from several countries, including India and Sri Lanka.

Australian Prime Minister and Commonwealth Chair Julia Gillard, who is faced with a local media that is calling the ongoing Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) a failure, touted the declaration as important since the world faces the challenge of increasing agriculture productivity by 70 percent over the next few decades as the world population rises to over 9 billion.

The declaration sets out a 12-point agenda for the Commonwealth, including “coordinated and timely regional and global emergency relief efforts to deal with immediate crises and undertaking decisive and timely measures to prevent crises occurring”.

It also calls for “delivering practical measures over the medium-term to make agriculture… more productive and sustainable, strengthening support to government-led programmes and initiatives, developing country-led strategies to improve food security, and scaling up nutritional interventions, including those that target mothers and young children.”

Enhancing research and development is another key aim, as is “improving international market access for food producers, including smallholders and women, through trade liberalisation measures such as the elimination of tariff and non-tariff trade barriers and avoidance of restrictions on food exports”.

It calls for strengthening fisheries in member-states to ensure sustainability, including through addressing illegal unregulated fishing.

It seeks collaboration between global organisations, donor countries, and national governments to address production, storage, waste reduction, elimination of post-harvest losses, transportation and marketing challenges. The collaboration could include more effective ways of meeting infrastructure financing gaps that involve the private sector.

The declaration takes note of the “global food crises of 2007 and 2008 and the ongoing volatility and uncertainty of world food markets”, adding that the “distressing humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa… and the drought, famine and famine-like situations occurring in other most vulnerable countries in the developing world highlight the difficulties we face”.

The declaration reaffirmed the right of “everyone to have access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food, consistent with the progressive realisation of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security”.

Commonwealth leaders will use their membership of other global fora to advocate the Perth Declaration on Food Security Principles and to achieve outcomes relevant to member-states.

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