Commodity markets caught global attention due to volatile food prices in the past five years. While prices are currently declining, Graziano da Silva noted that underlying issues lurk in market institutions largely forged in the 1970s. Enormous changes since then, in production and distribution fronts, "have had far-reaching implications not only for how international commodity markets work but also for food security, property rights and access to productive resources, and the position of smallholder commodity producers," he said in opening remarks at FAO's third ministerial meeting on international agricultural commodity market governance.
FAO has piloted the idea of creating inclusive "multi-stakeholder fora" involving all stakeholders in a particular commodity market: government, private sector producers and traders, consumers and non-governmental organizations. It also hosts AMIS, the Agricultural Market Information System, an early-warning monitoring service that allows for coordinated response in times of stress, such as the 2012 droughts in North America and the Black Sea region.
One question ministers have been asked to discuss is how commodities should be related to the broader international development goals of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Commodity production and export account for a fifth of the world's economic activity and are estimated to provide incomes and employment for more than a billion people.
Smallholders in developing countries produce the lion's share of the world's agricultural commodities, including non-staple foods such as sugar and coffee. Improving their productivity and relative prosperity is central not only to FAO's goal of eradicating hunger, but to the broader United Nations agenda of supporting sustainability in all policy arenas.
Monday October 6, 2014/ FAO.