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Developing Agriculture Needed in Developing Countries

EU - In adopting a resolution on rising food prices in the EU and the developing countries, MEPs say that priority should be given to investment in agriculture, aquaculture, rural development and agribusinesses in developing countries.

Fairer international trade rules and an assessment of the effects of speculation on food prices are also underlined by MEPs. On agro-fuels, the Parliament wants production to be linked to strong sustainability criteria and to see second-generation bioenergy developed.

Right to food

The EP reaffirms the right to food and the need to improve access for all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. Two billion people still live in dire poverty and 850 million human beings are hungry daily. The resolution was adopted with 485 votes in favour 52 against and 7 abstentions.

The Council should step up its commitments to the Millennium Development Goals by adopting an EU MDG Agenda for Action at the June European Council. The House invites the Commission to analyse the effect of speculation on food prices and to come up with appropriate measures.

Sustainable food production

Analysing the discrepancies between farmgate prices and those charged by the major retailers should be done by Commission and the Member States. An impact assessment of the role of retailers in the food chain, as retail food prices is also called by MEPs.

The current EU cereal stocks would last only 30 days, and questions whether our food stocks are at the right level, says the resolution which calls for better forecasting of agricultural output.

Priority needs to be given to food over fuels and biofuel production should be linked to strong sustainability criteria. The House accepts that EU subsidisation of crops intended for biofuel production is no longer justified, but emphasises that only 2-3% of EU agricultural land is currently being used for this kind of production and media reports blaming biofuels for the current food crisis are exaggerated as far as the EU is concerned.

MEPs call on the Commission and the Member States to do more to promote the use and production of second-generation bio-energy.

The current crisis demands an immediate and thorough discussion among the EU institutions and the Member States on the role that modern biotechnology can play in ensuring the continued production of food at reasonable prices, says the resolution.

Better development policies

The House calls for an urgent and substantial increase in investment in agriculture, aquaculture, rural development and agribusinesses in developing countries, focused on poor farmers and small-scale farming. 75% of the world’s poor population lives in rural areas, but that only 4% of official development assistance (ODA) is dedicated to agriculture.

Small farmers in poor countries, who are mainly women, need to have access to land, financial services and credit, high-yield seeds, irrigation systems and fertilisers, says the resolution. MEPs call on the EIB to investigate possibilities for the immediate setting up of a guarantee fund in support of national micro-credit and loan schemes and risk-hedging schemes that operate close to the needs of local food producers.

EU Member States and the international community are asked to meet the extraordinary emergency appeal of the World Food Programme to assist it in facing up to the new challenges in the fight against hunger.

Ellen Hardy

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