Indonesia's SBY says food security must be G20 priority

27th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Thursday that food security should be a key priority for the G20, warning that soaring food prices could lead to more unrest.

"Indonesia fully supports the prioritisation of food security in the G20 agenda," the president told members of the world political and economic elite gathered at the Swiss ski resort of Davos for the World Economic Forum.

Citing United Nations food agency data, Yudhoyono noted that food prices have reached 2008 levels and "could still go up."

"High food prices impact on inflation but also poverty and hunger which could lead to social and political unrest," he said.

"In the medium and long term, we should be prepared for a growing world population," he added.

In a separate session, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde also stressed that the food security issue has to be dealt with.

"We don't know who is going to fix it, but we know that it's got to be fixed because we cannot have food shortages, we cannot have food crises yet again because it would fuel many more problems, that not only concern the developing countries or the least developed countries ... it will affect us all.

"Which is exactly the reason why we've put it on the agenda of the G20," she added.

Cereal prices reached a record high in 2008, sparking a food crisis and rioting in a number of African countries, as well as in Haiti and in the Philippines.

Violent demonstrations over recent weeks in several countries -- including Tunisia and Algeria -- have been provoked in part by escalating food prices.

Noting that the world population is already approaching seven billion this year and expected to reach nine billion by 2045, he warned that a failure to manage resources including food could spark the next conflict.

"The next economic war or conflict can be over the scarce resources if we do not manage it together," Yudhoyono said.

The Indonesian president also pointed out that Asia is undergoing a resurgence which would "redefine global affairs."

"I let the pundits debate if we are on the threshold of an Asian century," he said.

"One thing is indisputable, Asia is undergoing rapid and strong, economic, social cultural and strategic resurgence, the sums of which is certain to redefine global afairs."

Yudhoyono, whose country is chairing the Association of South-east Asian Nations this year, said that Asia is "more than China, Japan and India."

"If you think of Asia, also think of Indonesia and ASEAN," he insisted, stressing that Indonesia would "feature prominently in Asia's renaissance."

But with Asia's rise, countries in the region should also be allowed to deal with their own problems through regional groupings, as the European Union is taking the lead on the debt crisis, he said.

The World Economic Forum opened Wednesday with executives highlighting a power shift from the advanced world to emerging markets.

© 2011 AFP

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