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Experts discuss ways to strengthen poor nations' agriculture

afrol News, 14 December - The United Nations agency that promotes commerce to fight poverty kicked off a meeting today aimed at finding ways in which trade, investment and technology transfers between developing countries – so-called “South-South” cooperation – can improve farming to boost food security in poorer nations.

Experts from more than 20 countries gathered at the headquarters of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva for the three-day meeting on “international cooperation: South–South cooperation and regional integration.”

UNCTAD research into spiraling food prices in 2008 – which resulted in food shortages that has hiked the number of people suffering from hunger around the world up to around 1 billion – found that agricultural development has been neglected in recent years and greater support is needed to prevent future crises.

The meeting will discuss a number of areas in which South-South cooperation can support sustainable agricultural development, such as the challenge of raising investment in developing countries; the need to correct persistent distortions in the trading system, particularly the massive agricultural subsidies provided annually to farmers in affluent countries; the threats and opportunities from the recent rise in foreign direct investment (FDI), including large-scale acquisitions or leases of farmland; the development of new and appropriate technologies; and the challenge of adapting to climate change.

This second session of the multi-year expert meeting is also expected to add to UN efforts to achieve food security under the framework of the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Task Force on the Global Food Crisis, as well as strengthen UNCTAD’s work on agriculture.

A final session will be held on “the way forward,” with presentations by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UN Special Envoy on Food Security and Nutrition David Nabarro and by UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi.

Earlier this month, the UN Deputy Secretary-General called for stronger and more innovative cooperation between developing countries, particularly neighbouring States, to tackle global challenges such as poverty, hunger and climate change.

“Development does not occur in a vacuum,” Asha-Rose Migiro told the UN High-Level Conference on South-South Cooperation, taking place in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. “It has proved to be most successful when coupled with strategies to increase cross-border trade and investment.”

The three-day meeting was to review 30 years of progress since the UN Conference on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1978.

Ms Migiro also added that South-South cooperation should not replace North-South cooperation, but rather complement it. “Together we can harness the great endowments of the South and achieve the internationally agreed development goals.”

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