Discussing takeaways from the workshop on production resilience, many members noted key challenges facing vulnerable countries, including a lack of technology and access to products such as seeds, fertilizers and farm machinery. They also highlighted poor infrastructure in these countries, which have limited access to credit and insurance, and funding limitations.
Members suggested potential solutions, such as increasing agricultural productivity through technology transfer, agricultural innovation, research and development, and dedicating public funding towards research.
The Republic of Korea presented its experience on new high-yield varieties of seeds as an important way to improve agricultural production and productivity.
Other members emphasized the importance of well-functioning agricultural markets, a science-based regulatory infrastructure, and the role of WTO rules in supporting trade across the supply chains. Trade is a natural driver of achieving resilience, they said. There is a need to strengthen cooperation between the Agriculture Committee and other relevant WTO bodies, as well as between the WTO and other international organizations, to fight hunger, they added.
Overcoming financing difficulties
The coordinator of the working group, Marcel Vernooij from the Netherlands, provided a summary of the financing challenges discussed in the previous working group meeting.
One member highlighted the critical importance of maintaining farming activities in LDCs and NFIDCs at times of crisis and the urgent need to help them overcome financial difficulties to ensure farmers' access to seeds and fertilizers.
Some members pointed to the limited uptake of the International Monetary Fund's Food Shock Window, a new channel for emergency financing for countries struggling to cope with soaring food prices. Some members also raised the question of how the private and public sectors could work together to address the shortage of funding.
The group also discussed import financing, including import guarantees and credits that could provide additional financial means for the governments of LDCs and NFIDCs to support importing traders and to facilitate food imports.
Several members stressed the significance of promoting greater information-sharing to gain a better understanding of how food imports are being funded and to identify potential measures to help countries in need. Proposals submitted to the Agriculture Committee on import financing facilities were also referred to in the discussions. Some other members highlighted that the focus of the discussions should be on what the WTO can do regarding agricultural financing.
Questionnaire and food aid
Members continued to discuss the document (G/AG/W/233) containing a summary of members' responses to the questionnaire on their needs (G/AG/GEN/214) finalized last December. One member considered that the document may be a good starting point for discussing concrete recommendations and wondered whether LDCs and NFIDCs are satisfied with the suggestions compiled in the document.
The coordinator suggested that the group go through the document in detail during the next working group meeting to identify areas of common interest and recommendations.
The coordinator also asked members to share their experiences on how international food aid has been handled at the customs points of recipient countries. He also recalled that the issue of transparency of food aid transactions has been raised extensively under the work programme and regularly taken up in the Agriculture Committee. Two members reported that no tariffs or duties were levied on these non-commercial food imports.
The working group serves as a dedicated platform under the Committee on Agriculture to address the food security concerns of LDCs and NFIDCs as part of a work programme launched as a follow-up to the mandate given by the 12th Ministerial Conference in June 2022.
Workshop on production resilience
The workshop held on 12 April explored ways to bolster production and productivity and enhance food resilience in LDCs and NFIDCs facing an ongoing food security crisis due to multiple factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, international conflicts, climate change, food price hikes and debt stresses.
During the workshop, representatives from international organizations, including the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and farmers' groups shared their views on how to address the challenges faced by these countries. Some members also shared their hands-on experience in boosting local food production and productivity.
The coordinator invited members to contribute their ideas for the topic of the next thematic workshop.
The next working group meeting is scheduled for 8 June.
All presentations from the Workshop on Agriculture and Production Resilience held on 12 April can be accessed on the event's dedicated page.
More information about the Work Programme on Food Security for LDCs and NFIDCs is available here.