The financial crisis, following hard on the heels of the soaring food prices which threw an additional 75 million people into hunger and poverty in 2007 alone, will certainly deepen the plight of the poor people in developing countries.
The food crisis worsened in 2008. Hunger riots erupted in several developing countries. The countries hardest hit are those that liberalized their agricultural trade, often under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, at the price of abandoning their subsistence crops.
According to the Food Agricultural Organisation, hunger in 2009 reached an unprecedented level, with 963 million people affected. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food has made it clear that the WTO Doha Round will not prevent a food crisis. Yet the WTO Agreement on Agriculture seeks to liberalize agricultural trade as completely as possible.
The Agreement on Agriculture directly affects rural livelihoods as well as food security and incomes. The right to food is a human right not least because food is essential to life. It is important therefore that food be accessible to everyone rather than those just with money. From a human development perspective there is no disagreement that that universal food security must be a priority. Agriculture is therefore critical as it is a means to sustainable livelihoods and employment. Developing countries have a range of policy instruments that try to address food security and farmer livelihoods issues, but the design and implementation of certain aspects of the Agreement on Agriculture especially tariffs, domestic support and export subsidies have curtailed some of these policy choices. EJN will continue its Right to food campaign.