The University kicked off the conference on Monday by inviting several speakers from various countries to describe the impact of the financial crisis on their nation’s experience with food production.
The dean of McGill’s Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Chandra Madramootoo, introduced the event, which featured speakers from Ghana, Haiti, Central Asia, India, Nigeria, and Canada.
Mukuteswara Gopalakrishnan, Secretary General of the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage, mentioned that the financial crisis has presented a significant challenge.
“India could withstand the impacts of 2008’s economic downturn, particularly with respect to food security…. However, this year, things are going to be much more difficult,” Gopalakrishnan said.
He also said that while India has made progress in areas such as food production and caloric intake, hunger remains a serious problem.
Gopalakrishnan explained that the majority of farms rely on rainfall, and that deficient rain in recent months may cause Indian food production to suffer.
“India has made impressive strides,” Gopalakrishnan said. “But we must also simultaneously admit that the total riddance of food insecurity is still at a distance.”
Victor Dukhovny, director of the Interstate Coordination Water Commission of Central Asia, asserted that Central Asia’s governments must make progress in protecting their farmers financially.
“If you want to have food security, we need to protect the farmer by a proper system of financial support,” Dukhovny said.
Dukhovny argued that the amount of irrigated land in the region decreased following the collapse of the Soviet Union because of a failure to subsidize agriculture appropriately, and went on to cite the European Union and United States as examples of countries with successful agriculture subsidy programs.
Dukhovny also focused on water’s role in agriculture, and suggested the creation of a global campaign to strengthen water rights with regards to irrigation.
Daniel Uza, vice-chancellor of the University of Agriculture in Nigeria, offered a description of his nation’s efforts to ensure food security.
Nigeria, Uza noted, has experienced an increase in food prices as a result of government efforts to subsidize tractors, irrigate more land, and manage livestock.
Uza stressed the nation’s need for improved farming technology and emphasized the Nigerian government’s focus on private-public partnerships to achieve its goals.
“Because of the stable, democratic government which we have had in Nigeria for the past 10 years, we are very hopeful that the food security situation in Nigeria will continue to improve. And it is our desire that in the year 2020, Nigeria will be one of the most developed 20 countries.”