G-20 Recommends Increasing Investments in Agriculture

The G20 is a group comprised of the top twenty largest economies in the world; together they account for 85% of the world’s production of goods and services; over 80% of the GDP and about 80% of the world trade, while accounting for about 65% of the world’s population. The members themselves are finance ministers and central bank governors from their respective countries. Their objective is to serve as council to those wealthy nations. Until recently, G8 has been the primary council, but the G20 has risen in stature and is now considered the “go-to” for global economic advising. For the U.S., Timothy Geithner and Ben Bernanke are the representatives. Not surprisingly, El Salvador is not among the top 20 wealthiest nations; it’s ranked somewhere around 95 to 100, depending on the source. In fact, no Central American country is represented in the bloc; Mexico, Argentina and Brazil are the only three Latin American countries in attendance.

In a recent meeting, the concern was voiced as to how we would feed a world of 9 billion people, which is the predicted world population in 2050. Less than forty years away. Plenty of time for change, if we start now. One of the seven pillars defined by the G20 in this recent Washington, DC meeting, is to support small-scale farmers through inclusion in farm-to-school connections as well as supporting public-private partnerships that particularly focus on women agricultural producers. The G20 bloc also stressed the importance of protecting the world’s most vulnerable citizens from food price volatility and establishing safeguards for pending climate variations that will inevitably affect agriculture around the world. Other suggestions included improving infrastructure, particularly in the energy and transportation sectors, where large gaps exist and many small and poor farmers do not have access to basic infrastructure.

The World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged the richest world economies to invest $100 billion annually each year through 2020 (I can only assume that’s a combined total and no what each country should be investing, but my source was not clear). Some of this money, according to Oxfam, could be gained by taxing international financial transactions and imposing a tax of $25 per ton of carbon emitted by cargo planes and ships traveling in international airspace and waters. Whether or not these taxes will be imposed, and if the appropriate investments in agriculture will be made, remains to be seen. But at least it is on the agenda, and high up on the list at that. Food is something we cannot do without, and a food system that places a high value on sustainably and locally produced agriculture will also be one that improves the lives and livelihoods of millions of people – most of them quite poor people – around the world.

Pedro, a Salvadoran farmer, points to his damaged lettuce plants. Despite the overhead protection from the rain (and excessive sunlight – depending on the season), and the fact that he has terraced his land, he still faces many risks. As an organic grower, he strongly believes in how he’s helping the world and earning a living. Increasing investments in small-scale agriculture would help growers like Don Pedro.

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