Brussels, 11 November 2008 - "Food security and poverty are closely related and affect each other. The rise in food prices, particularly in recent years, has had grave consequences for numerous developing countries and their populations. However, the EU’s response to this development must not be restricted to short- and medium-term measures but must comprise a broad approach suited to overcoming structural and chronic hunger crises," affirmed State Secretary Hans Winkler at the meeting of development ministers.
"The increase in prices also entails opportunities. Higher prices offer new opportunities to earn money," stated Winkler, advocating the idea that consequently more attention should be paid to agricultural research that directly responds to the needs of farmers, and to informal education and exchange of experiences at the regional level. Likewise, increased investments in agricultural production and marketing were required, ranging from clarifying claims to land ownership to the promotion of small farms to ecologically friendly agriculture. "Controversial stances are found less at the EU level than at the global level. Here, we need a much closer connection between the various approaches and common global strategies," stated Winkler, also referring in this context to the intensive preparations for the international conference on development financing to be held in Doha at the beginning of December.
"In Doha, the EU will be judged by whether we prove to be a reliable partner of the developing countries, particularly at this difficult time of financial crisis. We have pledged to make available increased financial means for development cooperation by 2010 and/or 2015. As far as that goes, it is particularly important that we corroborate these pledges and assurances on the part of the EU and the international community, to which Austria has also committed itself. In addition to increased funds, development cooperation must become more effective. The fight against poverty cannot merely consist in increasing the financial means every year; on the contrary, we must improve the quality and effectiveness of aid delivery in cooperation with our partner countries," concluded Winkler.
Further topics of the meeting of development ministers included the reconstruction of Afghanistan and development cooperation there, the effects of the financial crisis on developing countries and the ongoing negotiations on the conclusion of economic partnership agreements.
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