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(Discussion draft)



Re-Focusing the Priorities of the ISPP Task Force on Global Food Security;

 

Some thoughts and views of a serving committee member – Chry Akem.

 

  1. Introductory Remarks

-         The need and formation of the task force

 

-         Activities from Bangkok meeting and review of current status of each

 

. Changing public policy –

 

. Enhanced training in developing countries -

 

. Quantification of losses -

 

. Farmer training in disease management -

 

. ISPP website -

 

 

  1. Global versus Regional Focus

Food Security is indeed a global concern. To make a meaningful impact however, ISPP will have to address the issue within a regional focus.

The 3 most vulnerable regions of concern are:

 

-         Sub Sahara Africa

-         Latin America 

-         Southeast Asia.

 

Activity 4 (Farmer training….pilot project for cassava) of the ISPP Task Force endorsed and initiated during the Bangkok meeting of 1999 has a country or national focus within one of the above regions.

 

To make a real impact in global food security, I propose that the ISPP task force re-focus its efforts in this area and identify a workable disease-related project or projects within these 3 vulnerable regions that are having a serious problem with food security. One or two countries from each region could become the initial focus of the regional activities.

 

(The above is the basis of my brief submission to the Congress Challenge on Global Food Security).

 

 

3.      North/South and/or Developed/Developing Country Focus

 

Activity 2, which unfortunately never took off, had this orientation even though with a PhD training focus. This was because of the recognition by members that a focused and directed education was critical to meeting the food security needs of the developing/southern countries.

 

Along the above lines, I propose that the committee re-focus its efforts in encouraging training of researchers from the south with ways of resettling them upon completion. One way to discourage “de-camping” after graduation would be an undertaking to return and serve for a specified period before deciding to move on.

 

The other problem is that of donor aid projects and lack of continuation after the project ends. There is need to explore and establish ways of project continuation into the extension phase after the donor project is ended. This may partly explain why impact is hardly noticed after project comes to an end.

 

Sabbatical Focus – Scholarly exchanges in form of sabbaticals should be encouraged. There is no better way to render field training than in the field. Wherever possible, research projects should be carried out in the field countries rather than try to export research from north to south. 

 

 

  1. Collaboration between and within National Societies

There is very limited collaboration in any form between societies in activities related to global food security. When one considers the non-recognition of borders by pathogens and the regional impact of certain major diseases, one can only wonder why this need is not being actively addressed.

 

Concerns to consider in this regard may include those of quarantine. Are these real or just artificially raised to become a hindrance to national and even regional collaboration between societies in addressing common food security concerns? Is there a role for the committee in enhancing this needed collaboration?

 

A lot was said and raised in the recent web satellite forum on bio-terrorism, especially as concerns quarantine issues. Is there anything we can learn from these discussions to improve and enhance the collaboration between and even within national societies that would help in achieving food security, at national, regional and global levels? 

 

 

  1. Continued Relevance of the Task Force

Encouraged to see that ISPP is committed to the task force approach in addressing the concern of global food security, as evidenced by the congress challenge to mark this 8th congress.

 

To continue to be relevant, I would suggest that ISPP reviews the composition of the task force taking into consideration, among other things;

 

-         regional representation

 

-         institutional representation and

 

-         donor or funding representation.

 

Regional societies within the suggested regional areas of focus in 2 above, should consider setting up sub-task forces aimed at addressing issues of global food security within the focused regions. This may be a way of starting to also address issues of regional and national collaboration as raised in point 3 above.

 

In the above context the task force committee basically would serve as an overseeing board to make sure that regional issues to achieve food security are addressed. Regional and institutional reps would thus serve as coordinators of these regional sub-task forces.

 

A clear agenda should be set up by the task force, with clear and specific objectives.  A timetable to address or achieve each of the objectives should also be included.

 

 

  1. The Way Forward

We have come a long way in our approach, but a lot still needs to be done to have an impact, as a society, on global food security. The challenge has been given to us the task force committee by the society.

 

May I suggest again that we come up here with a revised timetable having clear deadlines to meet whatever targets we agree on from the activities we decide to adopt for the next 3 or 5 years.

 

Frequency of meetings either physically or electronically will need to be reviewed and increased in order to make a meaningful impact in our exchange of ideas. The Task Force should explore means of meeting every other year, if not possible for obvious reasons, to do so yearly.

 

I hope the above do raise one or two pointers for further discussion and deliberations.