International aid agency Oxfam Australia has welcomed the Australian Greens’ recognition of global hunger in their election policy on food security, and urges the major parties to do the same.
Oxfam Australia’s Food Justice spokeswoman Kelly Dent said that with 1 in 8 people around the world going to bed hungry every night, it was important that public policy measures on food security had a global focus.
The Greens’ policy includes a commitment to lift overseas aid levels and to prioritise small-scale agriculture within the aid program.
“Small-scale food producers and their communities make up the majority of the world’s 870 million hungry people,” Ms Dent said.
“Oxfam’s work in almost 100 countries has shown that investment in small-scale farmers can be a game-changer in the fight against hunger.”
She said the Greens’ focus on support for women farmers in developing countries was particularly welcome, given the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s estimates that providing women farmers with access to the same resources as men could see the number of hungry reduced by 100-150 million.
The Greens’ announcement was made as part of the launch of their food policy, Our Food Future.
Ms Dent said it was now time for the two major parties to give this issue the attention it deserved.
“As an international development agency, Oxfam is pleased to see poverty and hunger put on the agenda this election,” Ms Dent said.
This election, Oxfam is calling on both major parties to renew the bipartisan commitment to increase the overseas aid levels to just 50 cent in every $100 of our national income by 2016, and within that increase, to double the amount of Australian aid currently going to food security.
“We’re also asking the major parties to target support to small-scale producers, as this investment is good value for money; it creates jobs and income for the poor, drives local innovation, and improves child nutrition,” Ms Dent said.
Oxfam agrees with the Greens’ call for Australia to use its international standing as the new chair of the G20 to make global food security a priority, pushing for the establishment of new food reserves, an end to the subsidising of crops for biofuels and regulation of the international food commodities market to end damaging food price speculation.
“Whoever forms government next month will have a key opportunity to put development and food security firmly on the G20 agenda,” Ms Dent said.
“With more than half the world’s poor living in G20 countries, the G20 can play a vital role in ensuring that the global food system delivers for the world’s poorest people.”
For interviews or more information contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Laurelle Keough on 0425 701 801