Solutions to Crisis Should Empower Agricultural Producers, Not Restrict Production
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a response to the report by the World Bank, which proclaims that the hike in food prices has sent more than 44 million people into extreme poverty, Ambassador Alan Oxley, Chairman of pro-development NGO World Growth, released the following statement:
“Despite President Zoellick’s recent warning about the dangerously high level of global food prices, the Bank has remained silent about its support for policies that restrict expansion of land for production of food staples.
“President Zoellick outlined the Bank’s strategy and funding to support increased production, but has remained silent on the need to expand conversion of available forest land to food production. This is consistently stressed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as one of the most important strategies to boost food production.
“For example, it is currently toying with a ban on such expansion of production of palm oil as a condition for Bank funding. Yet as President Zoellick himself pointed out, the hike by 22 percent in global oils and fats prices is a major contributor to the recent surge in global food prices.
“President Zoellick notably only referred to soy prices when releasing the latest World Bank Food Price Watch this past week. He did not mention that the futures markets are predicting that palm oil, which is just as an important food staple in the global market, are set to soar.
“President Zoellick should cease toying with Soviet-style command and control policies conjured up with Green NGOs for agricultural and development financing. They will make the Bank a partner in NGO strategies to capture supply chains in vital food products, such as palm oil, soy beans and beef, to shape developing countries in their own image. The only outcome will be global food insecurity and higher prices.
“The World Bank should learn here from the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which has recently committed a USD$52 million loan to boost palm oil production in Uganda in cooperation with private investors, small farmers and the government of Uganda. This loan will help boost productivity and yields of small farmers, improve community development efforts and bring real benefits to families and local businesses through economic expansion, not green global welfare.
“In an editorial in the Financial Times, Professor Jeffrey Sachs agrees, ‘Leading agronomists have been saying for years that tropical Africa can produce vastly more food; enough to end food insecurity and import dependence.’
“The food crisis exposes the consequences of the World Bank’s development strategy and its formal partnership with environmental NGOs, in particular WWF. It should return to its core mission to reduce global poverty through agricultural development, and leave developing countries to work out the most effective way to use their land sustainably.”
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World Growth is a non-profit, non-governmental organization established to expand the research, information, advocacy, and other resources to improve the economic conditions and living standards in developing and transitional countries. At World Growth, we embrace the age of globalization and the power of free trade to eradicate poverty and create jobs and opportunities. World Growth supports the production of palm oil and the use of forestry as a means to promote economic growth, reduce poverty and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. World Growth believes a robust cultivation of palm oil and forestry provides an effective means of environmental stewardship that can serve as the catalyst for increasing social and economic development. For more information on World Growth, visit www.worldgrowth.org.