News / Africa

Trade Barriers Impede Food Security

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

When the food crisis began several years ago, with soaring prices and supply shortages, governments agreed to invest much more in agriculture. And with predictions of a global population of nine billion by 2050, the need for more food has become increasingly urgent. But some say food security cannot be achieved unless trade barriers are removed.

The Global Harvest Initiative says improving food and agricultural trade flows in the coming decades will help counter the effects of changing weather patterns, population shifts and limited natural resources. The initiative began in 2009 with a partnership of big business, including Archer Daniels Midland Company, DuPont, John Deere and Monsanto.

Trade Barriers Impede Food Security
Trade Barriers Impede Food Security

“Trade is actually very closely linked to global hunger and food security. And I think that it’s something that needs to be talked about more and more. The way that it really plays in is that markets are a big part of either the problem or the solution in addressing hunger and food security. Not only are they really the way that food moves from places of supply to places of demand, but they also play a big role in the decisions that farmers make about how much they should produce and what they should produce and when,” said Katrin Kuhlman, director of TransFarm Africa, also a member of the Global Harvest initiative.

TransFarm Africa is part of the Aspen Institute, which says its core mission is to foster enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue. Kuhlman said dropping trade barriers opens markets and gives farmers more incentives to produce.

“Farmers, just like any other business people, will decide what to produce based on what they see the market to be. And if they don’t see that the market is open they won’t produce as much. So, it factors really directly into productivity as well. So it’s not only the channel to move things back and forth, but it’s also impacting what farmers will actually decide to produce,” she said.

Easier said than done

But negotiating trade deals is often difficult. The Doha Round of World Trade Organization trade talks began in 2001. The goal is to lower trade barriers, but progress has been slow. There are major differences between rich and developing nations, including the use of agricultural subsidies.

Kuhlman says a different approach may be needed to resolve some of those differences.

“Part of what we need to do is sort of take ourselves back to the barriers themselves and to the investments and opportunities that those barriers are impeding. And if we do that instead of sometimes starting with the big negotiating round or the big agreement, I think that we’ll find that we can come up with different solutions for addressing the barriers and more practical and tangible ways that we can get at them,” she said.

She added that a demand-driven approach can help remove trade barriers.

“Very often the process itself will not work unless you have a way to test it. So countries will put in place different laws and regulations, but those don’t really come to life until you have an actual business that’s going in and saying here’s what we’re trying to do. We have this opportunity that’s being impacted by this barrier and we need to find a way to remove it. And then, I think, you see things start to change,” said Kuhlman.

This means possibly removing trade barriers on a case-by-case basis.

Own backyard

The head of TransFarm Africa said developing nations should not only take part in global talks, but also take a closer look at any trade barriers in their own markets.

In places like sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the market that’s really most critical in some ways is the regional market. Countries need to do things within their own borders to remove barriers to trade. But the regional markets are so important in sub-Saharan Africa and without finding ways to really facilitate trade in those regional markets, looking ahead to global markets is almost 10 steps removed. But really focusing on things regionally will open up trade all along the chain,” she said.

At the same time, Kuhlman said if rich nations are serious about dealing with food security, they also need to make their markets as open as possible to developing nations.

How important achieving food security?

“I don’t think that there’s a way to do it without addressing barriers to markets and without making trade flow more freely. And I think that we really are at a stage right now where we need to think very, very seriously about how to do this,” she said.

Business, she said, should be part of the process.

In April, World Trade Organization members pledged to find a way out of the trade talks deadlock. WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy told members to think hard about “the consequences of throwing away ten years of solid multilateral work.” He called on members to “use the upcoming weeks to talk to each other and build bridges." Lamy is scheduled to give an update on the situation on May 31.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs