Davos 2023: IFAD calls for urgent action to end food crisis

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has said there is an urgent need for world leaders to invest in longterm rural development to prevent recurring food crisis, end hunger and poverty. This was made known in a statement released by IFAD President, Alvaro Lario, at the just concluded 2023 World Economic Forum in Davos. According to the statement, the 2023 Davos conference calls for a massive scale-up of investments in agriculture, and longterm rural development from governments, investors and private companies with the view to ensure nutritional security and food sovereignty, an issue that has become critical for developing countries. At least an additional $30 billion per year in investments are needed, according to pre-COVID- 19 estimates, now the costs are even higher.

The statement reads: “We cannot continue to go from food crisis to food crisis. We should not have to see countries expe-riencing acute food insecurity over and over again. “Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. We must take immediate and concrete actions to strengthen our failing food systems – this requires strong commitment and bold investment. “Only long-term investments in rural economies can provide long-lasting solutions to hunger, under-nutrition and poverty. This is what will enable small-scale farmers to increase local production, better adapt to climate change, build short and local food chains, build and sustain local markets and commercial opportunities, and create small rural businesses. This approach makes a lot of economic sense.”

He continued: “We should not wait another minute to in-vest in rural areas. With climate change accelerating, we have a very narrow window of opportunity to help rural populations adapt, and continue to produce the food that they and their communities need to survive – which in turn is key to global health and stability. “According to World Bank research, growth in agriculture is two to four times more effective at reducing poverty than growth in other sectors “Today, the world is experiencing an unprecedented food crisis due to the convergence of high food, energy and fertiliser prices linked to the war in Ukraine, and several climate shocks.” “Key drivers of hunger remain conflict, climate change and the economic slowdown and difficult recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The number of people facing acute food insecurity soared – from 135 million in 2019 to 345 million in 2022. “Currently, a total of 49 million people in 49 countries live on the edge of famine. One person in ten – about 828 million people – are currently suffering from hunger defined as chronic undernourishment. In addition, almost 3.1 billion people cannot afford a healthy diet. “Increasingly world food consumption is concentrated on three main crops (wheat, maize and rice). An estimated 45 million children suffer from acute malnutrition, 149 million children have stunted growth and development due to a chronic lack of essential nutrients in their diet, while 39 million are overweight. “Despite global commitments to end hunger by 2030, donor support for agriculture has been stagnant at just 4 percent of total ODA for at least two decades. About 3 billion people live in the rural areas of developing countries and they rely, to a significant extent, on small-scale farming for their food and livelihoods.”

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