Industry leaders discuss global food security
The Global Food Security Forum welcomed a variety of industry leaders and experts to discuss and examine the state of global food security and address current challenges facing the world’s food supply chain and distribution during the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, Nov. 12-13.
During the workshop titled “The state of global food security: From farm to fork,” panelists met to discuss a variety of topics impacting global markets.
“My major involvement in this forum and the efforts to bring this about is because of Indonesia’s increasing interdependence on global markets,” said entrepreneur and politician Hashim Djojohadikusumo. “Many people are surprised, especially Europeans and North Americans, by the effect of the Ukraine crisis and war on countries as far away as Indonesia.”
Indonesia imports roughly 14 million tons of wheat and produces very little wheat of their own.
He continued, “Anything happening in faraway places such as Ukraine, has a direct impact on the livelihoods of Indonesians.”
“It has been nine months since the start of the full-scale invasion by Russia on my country and it may seem as literally on the other side of the earth from here, but one of the lessons this world teaches us is how connected we are to each other,” said Member of Ukrainian Parliament and leader of the Holos/Voice Party Kira Rudick. “Before the war started, my country was one of the top five world’s largest exporters of wheat, grains, sunflower oil, tomatoes and corn. Right now, my country, whose mission is to feed the world, has so much complications in doing so.”
The Russia-Ukraine war has not only had direct effect on food security in the countries with direct connections with Ukraine, but with all the countries in the world. She noted since the invasion, food prices and grain prices have gone up 30 percent.
Security challenges and regional differences
In terms of regional food security differences, Rural Development and Food Security Thematic Group Asian Development Bank (ADB) Chief Qingfeng Zhang highlighted three factors impacting the industry prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
He pointed out several Asian regions were already suffering from political conflict and have been greatly impacted by climate change, including floods and drought.
“When it comes to what we need to do, there is no single blueprint,” he said. “But there are three things being very important – demand, supply and logistics.”
As of Sept. 27, ADB announced its plans to provide at least $14 billion over 2022-25 in comprehensive programs to ease a worsening food crisis in Asia and the Pacific. The plan looks to improve long-term food security by strengthening food systems against the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss.
“I think through this group of discussions, we need to continue to promote the open trade and regional cooperation, particularly to fertilizer,” he said.
“The problem between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the shutdown of exports from Ukraine through the Black Sea has brought global attention to the food security issue,” mentioned Former Supreme Allied Commander Europe North Atlantic Treaty Organization General Wesley Clark. “But, it’s overdue attention. This is not a problem of one event, but a problem having been built over several decades.”
He explained the global economy has knitted these markets together in such a way that through these global supply chains, population growth and changing consumer preferences, a system has been built being interconnected, and when shock occurs, such as rising prices, it hits countries and markets all across the world.
“We know the financial implications of this are worldwide in terms of what it does to rates of exchange and currency, and what it does for the cost of imported food in countries around the world,” he added. “These problems have to be addressed realistically – not in campaign pledges, but with real programs, technology and financing.”
“It’s excellent to discuss the troubled state of global food security, but the task is: What is the world going to do about it?” said U.S.-Indonesia Society President David Merrill. “We have come a long way, but there’s a long way to go.”
In the spring of 2022, the G20 wasn’t sure it wanted to deal with global food security. The G20 viewed global food security as a political issue, not an economic issue.
Merrill noted the G20 took four to five weeks to recognize global food security as an economic development issue, no matter how much it’s related to war. During the forum, he suggested international organizations must work together and domestic supply response needs to be cultivated. In addition, the G20 has an opportunity to bring forward ideas for supportive mechanisms on key issues.
“It’s great to talk about future solutions, but today we have a solution already.We need to get the industry actors to recognize we all need to work together and make difficult decisions,” mentioned Niels Trost, an attending panelist. “The U.S. government has been clear: Oil and food needs to flow to the market, and there are no sanctions on food and energy exports from Russia; but yet, the industry is self-sanctioned and it has contributed to the shortage we see today.”
“We need to address high energy prices,” he added. “Prices are dictated by supply and demand, so we need to do something about increasing the supply. The quickest way to bring prices down is to increase supply – it’s very simple.”
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.