US Announces Global Food Security Initiative

In October, we will discuss the issue of food security with a representative of the United Nations World Food Programme. You may therefore be interested in the announcement by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the last day of the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York  that her government is launching an ambitious global food security initiative aimed at addressing hunger around the world. Said Clinton: “Massive hunger poses a threat to the stability of governments, societies, and borders. People who are starving, who have no incomes, who can’t care for their families, are left with feelings of hopelessness and desperation. And so we know that desperation of that magnitude sows seeds of its own—of tension, conflict, and even violence.” Check out the program’s webpage, including a video that lays out the problem and the challenge.


6 Responses to “US Announces Global Food Security Initiative”

  1. 1 Veronica Cheung 27/09/2009 at 11:32 pm

    People in the developed countries may not realize the seriousness of massive hunger happening in the the developing countries. I was shocked by the figures shown in the website of Clinton Global Initiative. One of the objective of the Clinton Global Initiative is to help the medium size agricultural business to develop which I think reflects a major problem of modern society. People nowadays want to make “quick” money and tend to shift to businesses that can make big money but forgot what keep people alive is the agricultural sector, providing us food. Wastage of food in the developed countries was once report that could supply to some developing countries for years. I think we should really stop this shameful behaviour. Through education, in my opinion is the ultimate way to raise the awareness of the people. Government should take the lead to help the agricultural sector by giving both financial or technical help to the farmers to increase yield and educate them to pursuit a sustainable farming method.

  2. 2 Ma On Ki 29/09/2009 at 11:07 pm

    I do think it is important for us to take the massive hunger problem into serious consideration. But I wonder whether the international organization can really help much. Sometimes, even when food are sent to those places who need them, we will never know how much resources are actually going to the hands of the people as there are always a corrupted government in those places. However, given a lot of constraints e.g. to respect the sovereignty of the nation, other nations cannot help much in this aspects. Maybe, in my own opinion, we should not only give food to those people who would die for starvation in seconds. We should let them know or even help them to stick together and force the government to change. Though it may cause lots of life it is the only way out. We cannot only rely on endless international support. We need to help them help themselves.

  3. 3 Ng Ka Yin, Karen 30/09/2009 at 4:29 pm

    I do agree with the previous comment that sometimes even we delivered food or other resources to the people in need, we cannot ensure that they can really receive it. For example, if you saw the “Sunday Report” by TVB shown in few months ago, talking about if the Sichuan people really can receive the money, food and resources that were donated by our Hong Kong citizens and organization. Actually, some of the Sichuan people was interviewed and they claimed that they never received any food, resources and money. That’s the problem due to the corrupted government. But, so far, what can we do to due with this political problem?

    Instead of donating money, giving them food, why don’t we solve the problem by educating them how to plant by themselves? Like one of the charity organization, Heifer Hong Kong, they assist the poor families by providing them with meat goats, pigs, ducks and/or geese and related training on animal production. Then they can live by their own, produce their own food and go out of poverty.

  4. 4 Chan Pui Ki, Kiki 30/09/2009 at 10:10 pm

    I agree that political problem hinders food delivery. Sometimes, interests of a few leaders override those of the people, such as when the government in North Korea once rejected food aid from the United Nations, when the junta in Myanmar declined foreign aid after Cyclone Nargis hit the country and when food aid to Darfur region in Sudan was cut by bandit raids.

    And sometimes, developed countries wipe out the opportunities for their developing counterparts to achieve self-reliance. Some developing countries, after accepting assistance from the International Monetary Fund or after entering the World Trade Organization, are compelled to open their markets to heavily subsidized farm produce. This drives small farmers out of business and exposes poor people to world food price fluctuations. In addition to right farming methods such as the use of intermediate technology, there needs to be chances for the developing countries.

  5. 5 Wan Pui Yin (Evelyn) 02/10/2009 at 1:09 am

    As mentioned by Mr. Reyes in class, every global issue nowadays require the joint efforts of businesses, governments and the civil society. Following this three-pronged approach, I want to put forward 3 big questions: a) what can the three parties do concerning food security? b) what potential problems are there when these policies are implemented? c) how can we avoid these problems?

    e.g. MNCs can invest in the impoverished country to create jobs for locals, but since companies are predominantly concerned with making more profits, not many are willing to come up with businesses that can really help the poor in these states. And if the salaries are low, citizens may not have enough spending power still to purchase food and sustain a living.

    The problem of corruption also comes in, if the MNCs come into agreement with the government. For instance, in Burma, French Oil company TOTAL was allegedly funding the military regime.

    And in response to the previous comments, sustainability through educating the locals and sharing technology is of course the way forward, but then again, who should go in and who will fund them? International aid organisations? Governments? or even universities? Can there be a sustained movement after all where there is continuous funding and really teams of people going in to do the job?

    The crux of this issue perhaps is really encapsulated in Hillary Clinton’s statement–“The question is not whether we can end hunger, it’s whether we will.”

  6. 6 Kei Kit Lung 09/10/2009 at 2:28 pm

    Famine do really call for our attention in this century, for it is hard to imagine that there are still massive numbers of people experiencing hunger and suffer malnutrition in the third world. As far as I know, the problem faced in less developed countries goes beyond than merely “food shortage”. Take the Sahelian countries as examples, its famine problem is in fact a function of dry climate, infertile soils, raising population due to uncontrolled birth rate, civil wars, low technology and skills level etc. Therefore, I think food aid only solves the problem temporarily, instead of solving it at its roots.

    In addition, there may be certain undesirable side-effects of food aid. As suggested by Onki, the food donated may eventually end up in the hands of corrupted officials. Besides, the food aid may increases the food supply suddenly, thus lowering the price of locally produced food. It may drive away the businesses of local farmers. Some food donated may not suit the local dietary perference and cannot be kept for long without proper cooling system.

    I agree that technology transference, and educating the local people on how to grow harvests themselves should be the way out. The ultimate solution of food insecurity is not on how to provide adequate food but on how to maintain a stable supply of food for those in need.

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