"We should not shy away from calling on the larger winners of the commodity boom to join in funding the response to the food crisis," said Joachim von Braun, the director-general of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Presenting the insitute's proposed policy response to overcoming the current food crisis on 16 May 2008, he also said that affected countries themselves and the traditional donor communities needed step up their funding in light of the crisis.
The big winners of current food and commodity price crisis are "the major oil and food exporting countries and the related corporations," he said, explaining that the food and commodity price boom is currently leading to a massive redistribution of wealth in the world. "We cannot just appeal to the traditional donor and aid community to fix that change in global asset redistribution. We also have to appeal and put political pressure appropriately on the new winners, especially the winners from the oil boom," he continued.
Apart from the financing issues, IFPRI's two-fold policy response to the crisis consists of an emergency and resilience package.
"We think it does not make sense to talk about long term versus short term policy responses and find it much more important to have immediate initiation of two types of actions. Those which have fast effects and need to continue for a long time and those which have slow [...] effects but will have a lot more impact in the long run. The latter also have to start now," said von Braun.
The four actions of the emergency package include emergency food assistance and removing biofuels subsidy policies in Europe and elsewhere. IFPRI also proposes eliminating current export bans and restrictions in countries like China, India and Vietnam. Indeed, according to the institute, such policies make the international market smaller and more volatile and decrease incentives for farmers to produce more food. It believes that the next G8 summit should put export bans on its agenda. Finally, IFPRI proposes implementing fast-impact food production projects, providing farmers with improved seeds, fertilisers and credit.
As for the resilience package, von Braun said that one of the most important actions required is to scale up investment for sustained agricultural growth, such as investment in research, in improved water utilisation and drought-resistant crops. "Overcoming this crisis will be very knowledge and science intensive," he added.
Other measures include smarter social protection measures, overcoming the deadlock of the Doha negotiations and rearranging market institutions in order to "calm markets through better market-oriented regulation of commodity exchanges to avoid speculation and joint stockholding".
EU farm ministers are today discussing (19 May) rising food and agriculture product prices on global markets and the Commission is set to unveil its proposals for the review of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) tomorrow.