More needed from Australian Government to tackle food crisis: Oxfam

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 01 May 2008

MELBOURNE – Oxfam Australia today welcomed the Australian Government’s announcement to provide $30 million of assistance to the World Food Program (WFP), but said much more was needed to combat the food crisis.
Oxfam Australia’s Executive Director, Andrew Hewett, said while the WFP’s current efforts would give some people a reprieve from hunger, money alone was not enough.
“People are starving – they cannot afford to buy enough food to feed themselves and their families and the international community must step up, not just to fix the immediate crisis but to address the causes of food insecurity,” Mr Hewett said.
“The Australian Government has announced other steps in addition to financial aid, such as enhanced development assistance programs and it is imperative that they follow through on this.”
“Since the onset of the food price crisis, caused by a range of factors including insufficient investment in small-scale farming, growing demand for biofuels and climate change, Oxfam has called for major reforms to the food aid system,” Mr Hewett said.
Mr Hewett said in addition to money, Australia could offer a helping hand through a number of other measures.
“As a drought prone country, Australia is ideally placed to help developing countries adapt by shifting production to high-yielding, drought resistant crops, but this assistance must go to poor farmers,” he said.
Although Mr Hewett acknowledged the Government’s ongoing ‘advocacy in international trade policy reform’ and their united call to advance the Doha round, he repeated Oxfam’s call for investment in small-scale agriculture to be central the Australian government’s measures to combat the current crisis.
“Oxfam will continue to pressure the government to ensure that it maintains it commitment to foreign aid and that Australia’s development assistance is used effectively to address the root causes of food insecurity,” he said.
For an interview with Andrew Hewett, please contact Melany Markham on 0407 515 559