After the official celebrations held in the Auditorium at Expo Milano 2015, World Food Day
proceeded with a meeting titled “Finance for Food: Investing in Agriculture for a Sustainable Future”
in the Auditorium of Palazzo Italia
. The event accented the need to increase investments in and sustainable agricultural production from small farmers and small and medium rural businesses. The need was directed at reaching food security and inclusive growth in developing countries.
Participants in the meeting were the President of the Republic of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, the Minister of Economy and Finance (MEF), Pier Carlo Padoan, the President of IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development), Kanayo F. Nwanze, and the General Director of the FAO (the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization), José Graziano Da Silva.
Those who produce the most food suffer from hunger
Padoan and Nwanze, who promoted the meeting along with collaboration from the Borsa Italiana, started off the session of meetings. The Italian minister noted that it is necessary to invert the paradigm that agriculture comes before development by talking about “agriculture for development.” These words were well received by Nwanze of the IFAD, who underlined how there are “more than two billion people excluded from the conventional financing system. Two billion people who produce most of the food worldwide.” This put a spotlight on the paradox that these very people “are the same ones who end up below the poverty threshold and suffer from hunger.”
FAO Director Graziano Da Silva urged governments and the private sector to act to “help families and small farmers” meet the growing need for food production. “Agricultural yields must grow by 60 percent before the world population stops growing.”
Stop investing in destruction; invest in protection!
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recalled the 17 Goals for Sustainable Development created during the last General Assembly and sponsored by all UN governments. “Now is the time to show good will and, to do that, agriculture is an essential sector. We must mobilize more financing to invest in family farming. The Millennial Development Goals said that we should invest in small farmers; the benefits of doing this will be longer lasting. Because of this, I ask leaders to explain how they can invest so much money in weapons that destroy people, instead of protecting them by investing in agriculture.”
No to speculative bubbles when talking about food
The final meeting was with Italian President Mattarella, who asked a very precise question. “Are we sure that the criteria for other kinds of goods and commodities can also apply to food production aimed at feeding the planet?” This question reveals a fear of “speculative bubbles that dramatically influence the destiny of countries and peoples. The phenomenon of land grabbing overturns social structures that have upheld cohesion and assured respect for Mother Earth.” We also need to protect “small scale growers to defend identities still on the margins of the current globalization. Small farmers need financing to develop a sustainable model that brings them out of mere subsistence and allows them to reach markets.”