United Nations: In the wake of high food prices and challenges in ensuring food security to the poor around the world, India has called for concerted efforts in improving global commodity markets regulation to check excessive speculation and volatility.
"Recent spikes in global food prices have exposed the inherent limitations of unsustainable market practices, unsustainable consumption patterns and unsustainable farming to deal with food as a basic human need," Bansa Gopal Chowdhury, Indian Member of Parliament, said at a General Assembly session on food security here on Thursday.
Chowdhury said there has been a surge in the flow of speculative capital into global commodity markets in recent years and increase in the number of future traded contracts in developed countries.
"Excessive speculation has led to spike in prices and high volatility in the market. We must make concerted efforts to improve regulation in the world commodity markets," he said.
Emphasising that food security for the poor and marginalised remains a challenge for governments, Chowdhury said that rising food inflation and food price volatility are seriously undermining efforts to fight hunger, poverty and malnutrition.
While the global food production is enough to feed the world's population, Chowdhury said high food prices, wastage of food, post harvest losses and other systemic macro-economic issues are hampering efforts to provide food for all.
He noted that tackling waste remains critical to addressing food security.
"We waste 1.3 billion tons of food annually, including post harvest losses. This is roughly a third of our annual global food production. If we are able to curb it, we would have enough to feed the one billion hungry people we still have to look after," he said.
Despite bumper crop production, global food prices have remained consistently high, Chowdhury said, adding that unsustainable consumption patterns, emphasis on producing non-food crops, environmental degradation and stagnant agricultural productivity has led to a mismatch between global food demand and supply.
Chowdhury outlined the measures taken by India to tackle food security and promote agriculture development, including the National Food Security Mission for enhancing production of rice, wheat and pulses, a national policy for farmers that addresses the issue of improving economic viability of farming, promotion of sustainable use of natural resources and undertaking appropriate price and trade policy mechanisms.
The Indian government is also in the process of considering a food security bill that would guarantee subsidised grains to more than 600 million people in India, with special provisions for women and children.
India has taken steps for providing crop and cattle insurance and made efforts to shelter small and marginal farmers from the vagaries of the market through price support initiatives.
"The solution to enhancing global food security lies in global action. We recognise the need to improve global policy coordination and coherence for food security among countries," Chowdhury said.
He called for collective efforts to ensure higher investment, greater use of modern technology and access to farm credit to enhance agriculture productivity and growth.
First Published: Saturday, November 3, 2012, 00:16