The Global Harvest Initiative (GHI) has published the second of five issue briefs outlining policies to sustainably increase the rate of agricultural productivity and address hunger and food security in anticipation of a global population surge to over 9 billion people by 2050.
The issue brief, “Removing Barriers to Global and Regional Trade in Agriculture,” highlights the critical importance of improving food and agricultural trade flows in the coming decades to counter the impact on agricultural supply resulting from changing weather patterns, urban population shifts and limitations of water, land and inputs, among other factors.
“Today the balance between agricultural supply and demand is dangerously close, which increases market volatility and the potential for localized or regional events to have global impact on food security. To sustainably meet future demand we must address counterproductive trade policies including export restrictions, high tariffs and restrictive quotas on food imports and restrictive import measures on equipment and modern technology that would improve agriculture productivity worldwide,” says Charles “Joe” O’Mara, a GHI consultative partner who served as the counsel for international affairs and chief negotiator for agriculture under U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture Madigan and Espy, and was responsible for negotiating the agriculture provisions of the Uruguay Round World Trade Organization negotiations.
“The urgency of hunger issues and food insecurity today is perhaps greater than ever, and these already notable challenges are exacerbated by barriers and export restrictions that reduce trade in foodstuffs,” says Susan Sechler, managing director of TransFarm Africa, a GHI consultative partner. “Uninhibited trade flows allow agricultural surpluses to reach areas of critical need that are just a border away in some cases. On the other hand, trade restrictions amplify price volatility, leading to hoarding and even higher prices. Trade barriers have the greatest consequence on the nearly 1 billion people worldwide who are struggling with hunger and malnutrition, and short-term, stopgap policies cause years or decades of damage to developing nations.”
The policy issue brief also proposes recommendations for eliminating trade barriers and calls for a more active leadership role by the U.S. government in finalizing and expediting multilateral, bilateral and regional trade agreements. Encouraging and strengthening trade agreements will result in increased market access and the more efficient production of agricultural goods, thereby greatly improving global food security.
GHI’s first issue brief addressing the importance of agricultural research was released on April 21, 2011. Subsequent GHI issue briefs will address development assistance, science-based technologies and private investment.