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The third meeting between the ministers concluded with the signing of a joint declaration demonstrating BRICS’ determination to meet the challenges confronting food security.
A joint statement released after the meeting recognised that the “BRICS countries are an important grouping to deal with the global food crisis, promote global economic recovery and play an important role in global initiatives on food security.”
Tuesday’s meet also announced the establishment of a Basic Agricultural Information Exchange System of BRICS countries, while noting that “such a system should not be a duplication of the Agriculture Marketing Information System (AMIS) created under the G20 and administered by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations”.
“We are required to ensure that the decisions we make today impact positively on the continent and the quality of the land we leave for the next generation and their children,” South African Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said at the conference in Pretoria.
“It is my expectation that we will emerge from this meeting with a shared sense that it was instructive, successful and well worth of the investment and effort we have made to be here,” she added.
Food security is a major area of alignment for the five nations that constitute BRICS. The bloc has a combined population of almost three billion.
The first BRIC Leaders Summit in 2009 in Yekaterinburg saw a separate statement on food security issued.
BRICS nations during the 2012 Summit in New Delhi criticised developed nations for undermining the global food security by distorting trade through agriculture subsidies.
“Subsidies in agriculture by some developed countries continue to distort trade and undermine the food security and development prospects of developing countries,” said a joint BRICS statement.
The meeting on Tuesday was attended by China’s Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu, India’s Union Minister of Agriculture and Food Processing Industries Sharad Pawar, Brazil’s Minister of Agriculture Antonio Andrade Ferreira and Russia’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture Shestakov Ilya Vasilyevich.
Food security is a huge challenge and therefore a key priority for the African continent, said Joemat-Pettersson.
“Our priority on the continent and in South Africa is to promote sustainable agricultural and food production, which will enable Africa to feed itself and the world,” the minister said.
Africa remains the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment, according to FAO.
One in eight people around the world is chronically undernourished, said the UN report released earlier this month.
Joemat-Pettersson urged BRICS countries to accelerate agricultural and food production, so that people on the continent can enjoy sustainable access to safe, nutritious and affordable food.
BRICS ministers must promote smart, responsible and sustainable agriculture, the minister said.
“As we consider ‘Negative Effect of Climate Change on World Food Security’, we must remain mindful that, with few exceptions rural women fare worse than rural men and urban men and women against all the Millennium Development Goals indicators,” Joemat- Pettersson said.
It has been estimated that if women had the same access to productive resources (such as land ownership, technical inputs, water and energy) as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 per cent to 30 per cent and that this would raise the agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5 to four per cent and reduce the number of hungry people in the world by between 12 per cent to 17 per cent, according to Joemat-Pettersson.