Monday, January 23, 2017

G20 Ag leader talk water, disease and antibiotics

Agriculture leaders from the G-20 nations, which includes Canada, agreed in weekend meetings in Germany that greater efforts should be taken to safeguard water, to prevent animal diseases and to curb the unnecessary use of antibiotics.

"We commit to approaches that improve sustainability of water use in food and agricultural production while ensuring food security and nutrition in accordance with our multilateral trade commitments," the leaders said in a statement after meeting in Berlin.

Climate change, the growing world population and demands for industrialization have put a strain on global water supplies, with the impact felt on rich and poor nations.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization warned in December that 12 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia need food aid as farmers struggle with the impact of repeated droughts, compelling Ethiopia to make major wheat imports.

Saudi Arabia has been ending its crop farming to save precious water and has been importing food instead.

"We will protect water and water-related ecosystems by encouraging water-friendly, sustainable agricultural practices and technologies that enhance the water quality and resilience of water bodies," the G20 statement on Sunday said.

"We are therefore committed to developing and implementing corresponding strategies at the national level," it added.

Global farming needs sustainable water supplies to feed the growing world population and provide the basis for world peace and stability, the meeting's host, German agriculture minister Christian Schmidt, said.

"Agriculture is a part of global security politics," he said.

The G20 ministers also committed themselves to reducing animal diseases but to prevent the unnecessary use of antibiotic drugs in farming.

While in Berlin, Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay met with the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Dr. José Graziano da Silva, and announced a contribution of $1 million to support international bodies that develop the standards for food safety and plant and animal health.

On the margins of this mission, Minister MacAulay also met with other key partners including Ministers of Agriculture from China, the European Union (EU), Germany, the United Kingdom and Austria, as well as the EU Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety Commissioner and the Deputy-Minister of Agriculture for Turkey.

Germany took over the presidency of the G20 group of leading economies in late 2016, a platform Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to use to safeguard multilateral cooperation.