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Trade must widen to ensure food security: WTO chief

Food security concerns rise amid Covid 19 pandemic

International trade is vital to ensure global food security, Director General of the World Trade Organisation Ngozi Okonjo Iweala has said.

Addressing the Global Dialogue on Trade, organized by the WTO Secretariat in collaboration with the United Nations Food Systems Summit, Iweala said that food must reach countries and regions which are in food deficit from the ones which have surplus.

As the world is still battling the Covid 19 pandemic, food security has become a major cause for concern.

Also read: As China's rice imports rise steadily, is food security becoming a challenge?

According to a statement issued by the WTO, Iweala said that the world will have to rely more on international trade for food security due to population growth, climate change among other factors. “An estimated one in every six people around the world depends almost entirely on international trade for the food they eat, a proportion that could rise to 50 per cent by 2050,” she said.

Looking ahead, it will be important to address trade distortions and ensure the sustainability of food systems because trade in food will shape the future of land, water and energy use, she said, adding that trade has helped create jobs and raise incomes, enhancing people's ability to purchase food.

Recently a World Bank report also noted that an increasing number of countries are now facing growing levels of acute food insecurity, reversing years of development gains.

It noted that as many as 48 countries “show a significant number of people running out of food or reducing their consumption. Reduced calorie intake and compromised nutrition threaten gains in poverty reduction and health and could have lasting impacts on the cognitive development of young children.”

Also read: G20 expresses concern over global food security

The Group of 20 in an in-person meeting held in Italy’s Matera underlined the need to increase investments to ensure food security and called for stronger co-ordination to fight the pandemic, which could add over 100 million people to the total number of undernourished in the world. There are already about 840 undernourished million people in the world.