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  • G8 pledges $US20 billion for agriculture


G8 leaders meeting in L’Aquila, Italy, unveiled a plan to commit US$20 billion of funding to the development of agriculture and said they would tackle persistent food shortages in developing countries.
The three-year initiative will also help developing countries develop scientific research in agriculture; foster international collaborations and improve the dissemination of research.
The leaders of the world’s most developed economies emerged from a meeting with their counterparts from developing countries to announce the extra funds today (10 July). 

"There is an urgent need for decisive action to free humankind from hunger and poverty," the G8 said in a statement. "Food security is closely connected with economic growth and social progress as well as with political stability and peace."
By linking the efforts of partners and stakeholders around the world, the leaders agreed to design and implement a food security strategy whose core principles will be country ownership and effective management.

The group pledged to deliver the commitments “in a timely and reliable manner, with mutual accountability and a sound policy environment”.

The statement went on to say: “Investment in, and access to, education, research, science and technologies should be substantially strengthened at national, regional and international level.

“Their dissemination, as well as the sharing of information and best practices including through North-South, South-South and Triangular cooperation, is essential to promote knowledge-based policy and national capacity.”

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization welcomed the announcement, as an "encouraging policy shift to help the poor and hungry”.

However, some campaigners called it an “old fashioned” way of tackling food issues.

"Just returning spending on research and development to where it was a couple of decades ago is not going to do the job if the thinking behind the research also returns to where it was 20 years ago," warned Emile Frison, director general of Bioversity International. "Only improved agriculture can do that.”

The organisation said that simple intensification of production will not be enough, especially in Africa, with its much greater diversity of staple crops, landscapes, soil types, cultures and weather patterns.

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