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Partnerships Will Meet the Challenges of Food Security

Fon Mathuros, Head of Media, Communications Department, Tel.: +86 158 4088 0591; fmathuro@weforum.org

  • Challenges of food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition can be met through partnerships and active engagement with the private sector.
  • Food fortification and school feeding projects are delivered effectively by the private sector.
  • The private sector, not governments, needs to address food security and related issues.
  • For more information about the Annual Meeting of the New Champions, please visit: http://www.weforum.org/newchampions

Dalian, People’s Republic of China, 13 September 2013 – Food security remains at the top of the political agenda in China and other emerging and developing countries. Panellists in a session on food security during the Annual Meeting of the New Champions were optimistic that, through partnerships and active engagement with the private sector, the challenges of food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition can be met.

“The problem is solvable,” declared Feike Sijbesma, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Managing Board, Royal DSM, Netherlands. Sijbesma pointed to food fortification, something his company is very active in providing. “Food fortification is an elegant tool … we do it for free in partnership with the World Food Programme.” School feeding projects are another “elegant way to deliver aid” as it keeps children fed and in school.

Roland Decorvet, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Nestlé (China), pointed out that agriculture constraints and land titles are obstacles to food security. He noted that governments are increasingly pushing companies to control their supply chains for quality. “The real issue is with the raw materials. We believe in the least intermediaries between the farmer and the factory gate,” Decorvet said. “All of our coffee and milk is collected and checked at the farm gate where it is either accepted or rejected. If farmers get better prices, they will give you better quality. That is the solution,” he added.

In what has been called one of the world’s largest social welfare programmes, the province of Karnataka, India, is delivering 10 kg of rice per month to householders at Rs 1 per kilo. K. Siddaramaiah, Chief Minister of Karnataka, said the province’s distribution programme is being bolstered by a US$ 6 billion programme for micro-irrigation and other initiatives designed to improve the health of the soil, boost productivity and support smallholder farmers.

“The government’s goal is to make the country free of hunger,” Siddaramaiah said. “Achieving this goal will require progressive policies and partnerships with private companies.”

Food security in China is threatened by issues such as pervasive pollution and climate change. “We have food safety issues because of pollution. The contamination level of land and water systems is already very bad. Awareness is very high here and we are looking at agriculture models, for example in Israel,” said Wu Changhua, Director, Greater China, Climate Group, People's Republic of China. Ecosystems in western China are well preserved, she said. “[Is this] an opportunity for collaboration? Hopefully we can all address food security in a more effective manner.”

Both Decorvet and Sijbesma agreed that it is up to the private sector to address food security and related issues. “It is a political issue and governments should play a much more effective role,” said Sijbesma. “But the problems are owned by the private sector and need to be embraced … The solution is not to distribute food to everyone. We have to get out of the world’s poverty problem.” Decorvet commented, “Government has created the problem and we have to solve it.”

Tim Hanstad, President and Chief Executive Officer, Landesa, USA, concluded there is a “sense of optimism” about the many challenges of hunger. “No one sector owns this problem. We have to work together in a multistakeholder approach to this very important problem,” he said.

Over 1,600 participants from 90 countries are taking part in the seventh Annual Meeting of the New Champions Dalian. The Meeting is held in close collaboration with the Government of the People’s Republic of China with the support of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

Under the theme Meeting the Innovation Imperative, the Meeting features an intensive three-day programme to explore the innovation imperative under four thematic sub-themes: Transforming Industry Ecosystems; Unleashing Innovation; Building Societal Resilience; and Connecting Markets.