Minister Schmidt: "Food policy is security policy"
Tasks need to be more closely interlinked
Christian Schmidt, Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, called for a strengthening of agricultural structures in developing countries.
Speaking at a conference on the global food situation hosted by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in Berlin on Thursday, Schmidt stressed: "We cannot overcome hunger in the world without an efficient and sustainable agricultural sector. All people must be able to provide themselves with a healthy and diverse range of foods – whether from their own production or because of a decent income. We will not be able to achieve substantial success in the fight against hunger without having strong farming structures, without securing land rights, without involving the people concerned, and without adapting production to climatic and geographic challenges. That is why food and agriculture constitute one of the priority areas of German policy on Africa."
Schmidt advocated better dovetailing of agricultural, security and development policies: "Hunger and malnutrition threaten security and stability in the world. Food policy is thus always also security policy and requires a coherent policy at all levels." He added that the Federal Government had committed itself to the human right to food. Huge investments would be needed here. "We need centres of innovation in order to establish agricultural value-added chains in Africa. Our agricultural training farms serve as good role models in this regard. We have know-how and can pass on knowledge on the ground. We want to take this approach further. The German agri-food industry represents an efficient sector that is strong enough to make investments."
He went on to say that, commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, exemplary economic cooperation projects were already under way in Ethiopia and Morocco, with a further project having been launched in Zambia. BMEL also supports the exchange of experience between farmers' stakeholder bodies. A cooperativesociety project will shortly be launched in Kenya.
Education and training, in particular, have an important role to play in the fight against hunger. BMEL, together with practitioners from industry, are therefore investing in training and technology transfer. "Our projects can serve as models. They are examples of better production of foodstuffs in terms of both quantity and quality because they are relevant to practice and tailored to meet the needs of partner countries," Schmidt emphasized.
In addition to this, BMEL, at multilateral level, provides substantial support in the development and negotiation of international standards, such as for example the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests. With support from Germany, these guidelines are currently being implemented as pilot schemes in a number of different countries, for instance Sierra Leone. A further important element of multilateral cooperation is the focus of agricultural production on diversified cultivation in order to make it possible for the respective population to have a healthy and well-balanced diet.
Schmidt went on to say that the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) staged by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture was a key instrument for strengthening the agricultural sector and for anchoring the field of agriculture at international level as well. In recent years the Forum has established itself as one of the most important platforms for discussing, and networking on, vital issues related to the global agri-food industry. This year, in the lead-up to the International Green Week, the Forum discussed what key contribution the agricultural sector could make towards ensuring global food security. More than 65 Ministers of Agriculture from around the globe agreed to support making agriculture more diverse, site-adapted and resilient, a development which is key to eliminating hunger and malnutrition. Schmidt stated that he would do his utmost to realise the human right to food. "The Agriculture Ministry is a Ministry of Life. The challenge is to safeguard people's livelihoods - at home and abroad.