Leaders from the world's largest industrial nations are promising more
food aid and agricultural assistance for Africa to help ease the impact
of rising food costs. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns
reports from the Group of Eight summit in Japan where some
non-governmental organizations say increasing demand for biofuels is
partly to blame for higher food prices.
G8 leaders say they are concerned that the steep rise in global food prices could push millions of people back into poverty.
they have pledged more than $10 billion in food aid since the
first of the year and are calling on other donors to join them in
providing seeds and fertilizers for the upcoming planting season.
leaders say they will support improvements in agricultural
infrastructure including irrigation, transportation, storage,
distribution, and quality control while assisting in the development of
food security early warning systems.
At their summit on the
Japanese island of Hokkaido, G8 leaders promised to work with the
International Monetary Fund to help food-importing countries and vowed
to boost investments in African agriculture to double the production of
key food staples within ten years.
Global food prices were a big
part of talks between G8 leaders and heads of state from South Africa,
Algeria, Ethiopia, Senegal, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Ghana.
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says 37 countries are
most affected by rising food prices. Twenty one of them are in Africa.
Abani is with the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, a coalition of
groups campaigning to raise living standards in the developing world.
are forced to make choices between food and education, food and health,
and this crisis really exacerbates the situation on the ground," he
Rising world food prices are the result of a number of
factors including higher transportation costs, drought, and increased
demand from a growing middle class in China and India. There is also
more land under cultivation for biofuels, including ethanol.
non-governmental organization ActionAid says biofuels are responsible
for as much as one-third of the recent increase in food prices.
ActionAid's Carol Kayira says that is bad for Africa.
being earmarked as the source of biofuels in the future, that Africa
would develop if they implement the biofuels or if they grow biofuels,"
she said. "And for us in Africa, we are saying no. First of all, we
need more research on biofuels. Secondly, we are saying we are already
having difficulties to produce our own food to feed ourselves, so if
you come in Africa and then you are taking out the basic resources that
we require for food for biofuels, you are making the problem worse."
leaders say they will ensure that the sustainable production of
biofuels is compatible with food security, in part, by accelerating the
development of biofuels from non-food plant materials and waste.
Suuna is the general secretary of the advocacy group PELUM, which
promotes ecological land use management. He says growing demands for
biofuels in the developing world are disrupting African agriculture.
a global community, irrespective of whether the immediate people who
are dying may be in Africa, this is your problem as much as it is an
African problem," said Sunna. "Just as a tsunami in Asia is an African
problem is an American problem, so is anything to do with food in
In their statement on food security, G8 leaders vowed
to form a global partnership on agriculture and food involving
developing country governments, donors, the private sector, and civil
The World Bank says increases in the price of wheat,
rice, and maize cost developing countries more than $320 billion last
year. Oxfam International says food inflation has wiped out five
percent of the Gross Domestic Product of Mozambique and Eritrea, and
ten percent of GDP in Senegal, Haiti, and Sierra Leone.