Doubling agricultural research and development (R&D) in developing countries over the next five years could lift more than 250 million people out of poverty by 2020, says Joachim von Braun.
An International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) model predicts that a global recession, coupled with a decline in agricultural investment, could result in cereal price increases of 30 per cent above what is expected without a recession — leaving 16 million more children malnourished by 2020.
But if R&D investment is maintained, cereal prices in 2020 will be 15 per cent lower than the non-recession baseline, says von Braun.
Action is also needed to cope with price bubbles and crisis situations. IFPRI recommends that an emergency reserve of 300,000 tonnes of grain, managed by the UN World Food Programme, be strategically placed in the developing world, with a global intelligence unit that can advise on market intervention.
Von Braun says that biofuel subsidies should also be eliminated and the money invested instead in R&D for innovative biomass use.