Oxfam in West Africa
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Food Crisis : Ten Measures to Make a Difference

October 16th, 2008 Posted in Agriculture, English

  The Oxfam International briefing paper is based on case studies about the impact of the Food crisis on poor people.The paper is proposing  the following 10 measures if adapted to the local context, could make a huge difference to the millions of poor people hit by the current crisis, and build resilience to future shocks. Poor-country governments, with the support of donors, should:

  • Increase public spending on agriculture to generate supply in the short term, and provide support to smallholder farmers in the longer term;
  • Properly target farming sector expenditure, both in order to provide the public services required and to reach small-scale producers;
  • Invest in social protection programmes to enable citizens to meet their basic needs and protect their livelihoods from potential threats;
  • Consider contributing to national or regional strategic food reserves to counteract food shortages and market volatility. Assistance programmes should encourage local communities to design community-based food reserves;
  • Adopt trade measures that protect small-scale producers, strategic agricultural sectors, and emerging companies;
  • Avoid resorting to trade measures (such as export bans) that could exacerbate the crisis or undermine long-term development prospects;
  • Support the creation and strengthening of trade unions, producer organisations, and women’s groups in particular, in order that they can take part in the design, implementation, and monitoring of food and agricultural policies, negotiate collectively to bring down the prices of inputs purchased, and obtain better wages and prices for their products;
  • Promote access to assets and services, particularly for women farmers. Access to land, water, seeds, fertilisers, technology, loans, infrastructure, and energy is often insufficient, insecure, or too expensive;
  • Address the problems of waged agricultural workers, developing and enforcing labour legislation for rural workers and establishing guaranteed employment programmes for people who remain unemployed out of season;
  • Build community-level resilience to climate change to ensure that poor producers can benefit from higher food prices and both adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

In addition, rich countries, the World Bank and other donors should:

  • Coordinate their action and funding through a United Nations-led mechanism, building on the work done by the High Level Task Force on food prices.
  • Increase investment in development assistance to agriculture in developing countries, particularly for smallholders.
  • Stop pressing for rapid liberalisation and opposing adequate safeguards for developing countries in multilateral, regional, and bilateral trade negotiations and agreements.
  • Reform their agriculture and trade polices that permit dumping, restrict policy space, and hinder growth in developing countries, so that countries can support their own agricultural development and in turn ensure food security.

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