Latin American leaders met yesterday to talk about what is becoming a pressing global issue: the supply of affordable basic foods. Diets in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean rely on staples like corn, rice, and other grains, and their price has doubled in the last three years. Shortages have caused riots in Haiti and parts of Africa and Asia, and in the U.S., major bulk grocery stores have limited rice purchases by customers.
Luckily, Latin American governments seem to be taking a pro-active approach to the issue of food security.
A new regional agreement signed by representatives of 17 countries under the ALBA regional integration initiative is based on a proposal by Venezuela that also addresses energy security. Countries vowed to increase food production by pursuing agricultural reform and investing more in the agricultural sector, perhaps asking private banks to do so as well. Also, greater cross-border cooperation in food supply issues was prioritized to create “fair trade within and between the countries that results in fair prices for producers and consumers.”
The ALBA initiative includes a $100 million fund by Venezuela that is aimed at boosting cereal production. The money will help finance programs including a grain bank for the region. Another meeting is planned for later this month.