Friday, June 13, 2008

A 10 Point Plan to Extinguish the Hunger Pains Caused by the Food Crisis

Sources: Financial Times, World Bank

Recognizing the need for a coordinated policy to end the food crisis, Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, devised a ten-point action plan to fix what he calls a “man-made” crisis. He first proposes that leaders at the UN food summit agree to fund and support the World Food Program’s emergency needs in their entirety, support its drive to purchase local food, and ensure its free movement. The second point details the need for coordinated support of “safety nets” to help the suffering. The proposed safety nets include food for work programs and school-based food distribution centers.

The next group of steps addresses the agricultural aspect of the crisis. To fulfill the third point of the plan, world leaders and organizations need to facilitate aid during the planting season by providing seeds and fertilizer. Additionally, the World Bank and other organizations need to double research and development funding for the next five years. The fifth step of Mr. Zoellick’s plan requires additional investment in agribusiness in order to take advantage of the private sector’s ability to achieve value throughout the industry.

Finally, the World Bank president advocates the development of crop insurance and risk management programs for small farmers. The seventh point involves “action in the U.S. and Europe to “ease subsidies, mandates and tariffs on biofuels derived from corn and oilseeds” and the consideration of specific plans for even less restriction when prices increase. Mr. Zoellick believes this will promote biofuel derived from sugarcane, thereby reducing the amount of food used in biofuel development and increasing the amount of food available for consumption. The eighth and ninth steps remove export bans and “distortions” of agricultural subsidies to lower prices and promote fair trade.

The last step anticipates collective action among global leaders and organizations to counter the many factors fueling the food crisis. Mr. Zoellick and the World Bank are supporting this ten-point plan with a global food crisis response facility and $1.2bn in immediate funding, which they plan to increase to over $4bn throughout the year.

1. Will this plan be effective in organizing global organizations’ efforts to combat the food crisis?
2. Is this plan truly comprehensive in remedying the current crisis and preventing future price increases? Is there anything to add to the list?

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