Solidifies Efforts to Tackle Poverty and Hunger
Dakar—High-level policymakers, directors of international and regional organizations, private sector representatives, and leading academics and researchers from across West Africa and around the world are gathering here today for a colloquium on “Rising Global Food Prices: Causes, Impacts, and Response Strategies.” The policy roundtable is the focal point of an inaugural event to launch the International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) newly expanded West and Central Africa office. IFPRI— which seeks sustainable policy options for reducing poverty and ending hunger and malnutrition on a global scale—strategically places researchers where they can have the most impact. Dakar is one of several offices that IFPRI has established in various parts of the developing world to increase its effectiveness.
“By increasing IFPRI’s presence on-the-ground, local partners and collaborators will have greater access to the institute’s expertise on policy research and analysis,” said Shenggen Fan, IFPRI’s Director General. “In turn, IFPRI will be better positioned to listen to and learn from stakeholders about their needs, provide enhanced support to improve countries’ rural development strategies, and help countries respond quickly and effectively to growing challenges to food security, including the rapidly rising prices of basic agricultural commodities.”
Just three years after the 2007-08 food crisis, the prices of food items are again increasing and becoming more volatile. Today’s colloquium on the causes and impacts of high global food prices is especially pertinent to West and Central African countries, which were hit hard by the earlier crisis. Many of the region’s poorest consumers, who may spend as much as 50-70 percent of their incomes on food, could bear the brunt of sharp increases.
“Decisive action is needed to prevent recurring food crises,” said Maximo Torero, Director of IFPRI’s Markets, Trade and Institutions Division. “Governments in both developed and developing countries and international organizations must take a number of important measures, including strengthening social safety nets and other social protection programs; promoting transparent, fair, and open global trade; and setting up an emergency grain reserve.”
To achieve long-term food security, policymakers and international donors also need to increase investments in agriculture and rural infrastructure. Agricultural development can be a powerful engine of economic growth and a key element in the fight against poverty and hunger. But mobilizing additional resources for the agriculture sector, a challenge in itself, does not automatically spur growth or reduce food insecurity. To achieve these goals, African policymakers must also identify appropriate levels and areas of investment, determine priorities, and create comprehensive development strategies to allocate resources efficiently—and this is where IFPRI’s expertise can be of immense value.
To support these needs, IFPRI invests more than 50 percent of the institute’s overall resources in Sub-Saharan Africa, and its regional offices in Senegal and Ethiopia work actively with African governments and other partners, including the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). The institute plays a particularly critical role in the implementation of NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). These collaborative efforts have generated a wealth of information and evidence, which countries, including members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), have used to inform their agricultural development and poverty reduction strategies.
“With the expansion of IFPRI’s office in Dakar, we hope to hear directly from partners about the their most pressing challenges and priorities so that IFPRI can better align our research agenda with the particular needs of individual countries and the region as a whole,” said Ousmane Badiane, IFPRI’s Africa Director. “By doing so, IFPRI will enhance the relevance of its work and thereby help countries to achieve their goals: boosting farmers’ yields, raising incomes, overcoming poverty, and ultimately improving the health and wellbeing of all citizens.”
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) seeks sustainable solutions for ending hunger and poverty. IFPRI is one of 15 centers supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, an alliance of 64 governments, private foundations, and international and regional organizations. www.ifpri.org
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