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Opening Statement by Gilbert F. Houngbo President International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) at the Publication of the 2019 report on The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI)

Location: UN HQ, NY

15 July 2019



Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is no time to celebrate. I know we are all disappointed not to have seen better numbers. And I know we all  are disappointed to see better numbers. We agree that it is an abomination that more than 820 million people are undernourished and nearly 2 billion people do not have regular access to sufficient safe and nutritious food.

Director-General Da Silva has elaborated on the findings of this year’s SOFI report. There is no need for me to repeat him.

We can no longer wait to transform global, national and local food systems. The SOFI report comes at a time when the calls are growing for a radical transformation of our food systems. That is what it is about.

We need food systems that are sustainable, nutritious, inclusive and efficient. This means supporting food systems that, first, protect the planet and, second, provide nutritious and diverse foods.

Achieving these goals requires investments and policies that support small-scale family farmers and ensure inclusion, especially to not leave anyone behind. More specifically, it requires promoting agri-food value chains that reward these farmers for the role they are already playing.

Clearly there is a direct connection between food insecurity and how food is grown and and how food is distributed.  The majority of food insecure people live in rural areas; many of them are farmers themselves. Farmers who are not earning enough to buy what they cannot grow.

These farmers need to be better integrated into markets, and throughout the different value chains. Then they can improve their own food security through higher incomes, and also contribute even more to the food security and economic growth of their own nations.

Ladies and gentlemen,

To build sustainable, nutritious, inclusive and efficient food systems – and to start  making real  progress towards achieving SDG2 we need to do more and I would like to argue that we need to do it differently.

It is estimated that $115 billion needs to be invested annually in agriculture to reach the zero hunger SDG2. Yet ODA to agriculture is only $10.5 billion. So you can imagine the gap we are talking about.

Where will the additional resources come from? Only a fraction can reasonably be expected to come from traditional donors and multilateral institutions.

We need to work more closely together to leverage additional funding from developing country governments themselves and, above all, from the foundations and the private sector.

Yet, it is not just a matter of a shortfall of funding. We also need to update our approaches and take effective interventions to scale.

Our interventions need to be targeted, socially and geographically at the root causes of food insecurity including inequality, climate, conflict, fragility and economic slowdowns.

we need to focus on those who are suffering the most – especially women and indigenous peoples. In every region of the world, women are more likely to be food insecure than men.

Our interventions must not just reach those who are food insecure, but must ensure packages of support that address, specifically, the constraints that hinder food security in each country.

It is also imperative to create opportunities for our young people, particularly the rural young people. There are 500 million young people living in the rural areas of developing countries. 780 million if one include semi-rural and peri-urban areas.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The world is changing, and we need to change with it. Ending hunger is going to require new approaches and a new way of thinking. Climate change. Population growth. New technologies. Future investments need to respond to this dynamic environment.

But this requires, above all, better coordination and cooperation among national and international actors, and a new development architecture that includes a greater role for the private sector.

We hope to be able to work – all of us together -  on this transformational idea to help nations and their people achieve zero hunger by 2030.

Thank you.