WASHINGTON – A new assessment suggests long-term solutions for world hunger and agricultural problems.
Released Tuesday,the International Assessment on Agricultural Science and Technology for Development places special emphasis on environmental protection. The authors spent four years researching and writing the document
“We couldn't have gotten it out at a better time,” said Hans R. Herren,co-chair of the assessment team,”although it's a very sad story right now.”
Food riots,with deadly outcomes in Egypt,Indonesia,Peru,Haiti,and Cameroon,have broken recently because of rising prices.
Rising food prices endanger 100 million people on the brink of poverty around the world,World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick said Sunday at the World Bank-International Monetary Fund meetings,according to a World Bank press release.
“Business as usual won't do it any more,” said Herren.
The assessment was sponsored in part by the World Bank and the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization and looks at a broad range of issues,including population increase,climate change,poverty and malnutrition and environmental degradation.
More than 400 agriculture experts from around the world contributed to the report,which includes a global report and five regional assessments. The contributors come from a variety of fields,including research institutions,academia,businesses and non-governmental and governmental organizations.
“Agriculture doesn't exist in isolation,” said Shelley Feldman,professor of development sociology at Cornell University and a contributor. She said the conclusions in the assessment are just guidelines and that a global uniform approach is unrealistic.
“Agriculture is very much a cultural issue. Agri – culture,” Herren said. “What works in one area may not obviously work somewhere else.”
The assessment's conclusions are as broad as its scope.
The report concludes that local markets need to be strengthened so that small-scale farmers – of which there are more than 900 million globally,Feldman said – have equal access.
“Farmers will produce more if there's a market,” Herren said. “How long are you going to produce something if you can't sell it? You just sit on your doorstep and quit.”
Another factor in food production and unequal access to food is the lack of technology and education in many areas. Increased knowledge,the assessment says,would spur farmers to use and design new techniques,which might fit into their culture and be easier on the ecosystem than current strategies.
The conclusions called for sustainable environmental practices.
A 2,000-page book with the global findings will be published in the fall.