Minister Zaia Briefs Press on First G8 Farming Summit

Minister Zaia briefs press on G8 Farming Summit

23/01/2009

There's a simple solution to emerging from the current crisis and coming up with an answer to the global food emergency sparked by the rising price of raw materials: farm produce needs to be put back in the front seat in the economy, Italy's Farm, Food and Forestry Policies Minister, Luca Zaia, told Italian and international journalists today. He was briefing the press on the issues that Farm Ministers will be addressing at the first ever G8 Summit to be devoted to agriculture. The Summit is scheduled to be held at Cison di Valmarino, in the province of Treviso, from 18 to 20 April.

“If we want our ‘house’ to come through this crisis undamaged, then we need to strengthen it from the foundations up, and its foundations are our farmers. In chairing the first ever G8 farm Summit – Minister Zaia explained - we are taking on board the need to draft a shared road map designed to get us out of the crisis and provide an answer to the global food emergency. We need to restore to agricultural output and farmers the central role in the economy that is theirs by right. We need to cut the waste that comes at a social and economic price we can no longer afford today”.

Representatives of such international organisations as the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation), the WFP (World Food Programme), the IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development), the World Bank and the UN's High Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis, which UN Secretary Genereal Bank Ki-moon set up last year, will also be attending the summit for the first time.

“We will be redesigning the future of farming with them”, the minister stressed, adding: “This industry is currently enjoying a renaissance after years of political shortsightedness when governments in the industrially advanced countries thought they could just cut back on farming. We're paying a high price for those decisions today.  For every calory we eat, we need to use up seven just to transport the food.  We need to make up for lost time, not just by placing farming back in the centre of the economy but also by working to boost farm output in developing countries”.

“We have to narrow the gap between demand and supply, among other things by coordinating the way we manage international stocks, so that we can put the major producer countries' reserves on the market.  I am convinced that when the global economic cycle picks up again, demand in the major emerging economies starts to grow and the cost of energy inevitably starts to rise again with it,” Zaia said in conclusion, “we will start to see farm prices rocketing too. This is a structural problem and it's our job to thrash out a strategy on which we all agree at the global level.  And we need to do so now”.

The ministers will be issuing a joint declaration at the end of the G8 agriculture Summit, and their declaration will be submitted to the G8 Leaders at the Summit on the island of La Maddalena in July.