Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Nonsense of Food Self Sufficiency

In a Financial Times article, "Food self-sufficiency ‘is a nonsense’," the major player in advancing food shortages around the world and escalating food costs, is dismissive of it's participation. In a bizarre twist of logic, Cargill thinks a countries self sufficiency is not necessary, and nations shouldn't strive to attain self-sufficiency.
The drive towards self-sufficiency in response to last year’s food crisis will fail, a top executive at Cargill has warned, adding that the idea that countries “can be self-sufficient in every single food is a nonsense”.
Of course, no one ever claimed they could produce "every single food."
The warning by the world’s largest trader of agricultural commodities comes ahead of the UN World Summit on Food Security in Rome. The summit was prompted by the surge in the price of staples such as rice and wheat, which last year hit record highs, sparking food riots in countries from Bangladesh to Haiti. Countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East have moved towards self-sufficiency in response to the crisis, either by boosting agricultural production at home through subsidies and import tariffs or acquiring overseas farmland.

Paul Conway, senior vice-president at Cargill, said: “Not all countries can single-handedly be self-sufficient in all food commodities,” he added, also dismissing attempts to outsource agriculture production overseas. Mr Conway warned that host countries were likely to impose export bans in the event of a local or global food crisis.

For Cargill, preventing the export of a countries food during a food crisis is ridiculous, and not just common sense?

“Food security, which was not on the agenda of anyone but agriculture ministries only three years ago, is now very central to governments,” he said, noting that the interest was at its highest level since late 1970s or early 1980s. “The whole world had got very relaxed about food security and, yes, probably unduly complacent,” Mr Conway said.

In the US, the food security agenda, has become one of secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s strategic projects.

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