G20 Urged to Support FAO’s Initiative to Reduce Food Import Bills

G20 Urged to Support FAO’s Initiative to Reduce Food Import Bills

Gilbert Ekugbe

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has urged the finance ministers and central bank governors of G20 countries to contribute to the fund that would help to reduce the food import bills of 62 most vulnerable countries amid the current global food security crisis.

The Director General of FAO, Mr. Qu Dongyu, stated that the food import bill for 62 nations he described as net food importers in the low and the lower middle-income groups, has increased to $24.6 billion and affecting 1.79 billion people.

Dongyu said that the Food Import Financing Facility (FIFF) that was proposed by the FAO earlier this year would assist countries in financing their food purchases and minimise any risk of social unrest.

He said: “With your support, it could be implemented by the leading multilateral financial agencies under their balance of payments financial mechanism.”  

He noted that the FIFF is also aimed at increasing global agricultural production and productivity in a sustainable way and would be strictly based on urgent needs and limited to low and lower middle-income net food-importing countries.

“In addition, the FIFF is designed to increase future resilience by asking eligible countries to commit to invest more in sustainable agri-food systems,” he added.

Highlighting data from the latest edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) by FAO and its partners, Qu noted that up to 828 million people suffered chronic hunger in 2021, maintaining that the figure is an increase of 46 million from 2020 and 150 million from 2019, before the COVID‑19 pandemic.

He said: “Around 2.3 billion people in the world were moderately or severely food insecure in 2021 – 350 million more people compared to 2019.

“These stark figures represent the picture before the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, which has compounded the situation particularly for the poor and most vulnerable. The Russian Federation and Ukraine are important players in the global food and fertilizer markets and the war has multiple implications affecting trade, prices and livelihoods.

“These factors will continue to impact on food security and nutrition for many countries in the months and years to come,” he warned.

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