Using Korea as an exampleAt the G8 summit that wrapped up last week, participating countries agreed on providing $20 billion in aid for the next three years to help ease issues surrounding food scarcity in the world s poorest countries.
It s relieving that the world s developed countries are pulling up their sleeves to solve this huge problem, which has gotten significantly worse as a result of the global economic crisis.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the situation is critical. For the first time, the part of the population struggling from starvation has exceeded 1 billion, corresponding with a rise in the price of agricultural products.
The food-focused fund agreed to at the G8 meeting aims to help poverty-stricken countries boost their ability to meet their food needs on their own.
Until now, support was focused simply on providing food such as corn and beans. Some observers raised concerns that such support was only a short-term solution and would do nothing to help alleviate hunger, comparing it to pouring water into a basket with holes.
The new financial support will be used to strengthen infrastructure, including road networks in farm villages. It also will pay for fertilizer, seeds and farm machines. Instead of, say, providing fish, the new support system is targeted at teaching locals how to catch fish and providing them with fishing poles and nets.
For this to succeed, the poor countries involved must thoroughly back the plan, and they must have the will to become self-sustaining from a food perspective.
It is interesting that U.S. President Barack Obama, who proposed the establishment of the fund, urged the change in strategy by presenting Korea as a model.
He has recognized the success of a country that once received international food support but has grown into a major economic leader in such a short period of time.
President Lee Myung-bak said he will provide full support to the poor countries to improve agricultural production, using Korea s own experience of solving similar problems in the past.
Korea, which suffered from a scarcity of food after being liberated from Japanese colonial rule, stunned the world after it was able to supply its own food in just a couple of years after the government led the development and distribution of a new breed of rice that generates high yield.
The farmers greeted the government policies with open arms, voluntarily leading the establishment of scientific farming. It would be meaningful for Korea if the know-how that it has accumulated can play a role in solving the global food crisis.