Statement by Sahebzada Ahmed Khan, Minister, Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations at the High-level Thematic Debate on Addressing Price Volatility in Food and Related Financial and Commodity Markets (New York, 11 April, 2012)

Mr. Moderator,

We thank the President of the General Assembly for convening this debate. We also thank H. E. Dr. Leonel Fernandez, President of the Dominican Republic for highlighting this important matter. Our deep appreciation for the distinguished panelists for sharing their very enlightening thoughts with us.

Amidst today’s difficult economic situation, Excessive Price Volatility in Food and Related Financial and Commodity Markets, has exacerbated challenges, in particular, for developing countries. The debate on this topic, therefore, is timely.

Pakistan aligns itself with the statement made by the distinguished Representative of Algeria on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. We will, however, like to make some additional points in our national capacity.

Mr. Moderator,

During the last decade, food prices have not only increased at an extraordinary pace but have also shown significant volatility, especially since 2006. Regrettably, instead of progressing towards the achievement of our goal to eradicate hunger, the sharp price hikes and unusual volatility have led to a sky-rocketing increase in the numbers of hungry people in the world.

Several factors are responsible for the high food prices as well as their volatility. They include rising demand due to population and income growth and declining production due to the lack of investment in agriculture sector, adverse weather patterns, impact of climate change, increased use of agriculture land for other purposes, and worsened water availability as well as the demand for food and feed crops for the production of biofuels.

In addition, the lack of accurate market information mechanism and unprecedented increase in investment in food markets by several financial actors have also contributed to the high food prices and excessive volatility.

Mr. Moderator,

Undoubtedly and despite the presence of interagency task forces and such mechanisms, the food price hike and volatility continue. This debate, therefore, should lead to policy responses that limit the affects of high food prices and volatility and ensures the elimination of food insecurity for all, whatever the cause is. We cannot stress more that any increase in food prices has greater consequences for the poor since they, especially in developing countries, spend proportionately larger share of their total income on basic foodstuffs. Women and children are typically the most affected.

An effective response to this complex phenomenon will have to have national as well as international components. In our view, attention on the following may help us improve the situation:

Mr. Moderator,

While we should continue to find ways for enhancing food production and identifying other measures to address the issue of high and volatile food prices, reduction in food wastage should also be accorded high priority.

We hope our discussion will lead us to doable and practical set of measures for reflection in the summary.

I thank you.