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West Africa (Food Security)

Volume 557: debated on Wednesday 30 January 2013

The UK is improving food security in west Africa through investment in agricultural research, innovative agribusiness, improving access to markets and supporting national food security plans. We work through country programmes in Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and international organisations such as the World Bank.

The Minister will be aware that the impact of climate change in that region has led to a dramatic fall in crop yields. What efforts is her Department making to secure global agreement on finding new sources of finance, so that countries in the region can plan properly for their future food supplies?

The hon. Lady points to the fragility of this area and its food security. Crises arise from chronic vulnerabilities that need long-term solutions. We are supporting multilateral efforts to promote resilience in the Sahel to ensure that its communities can deal with the shocks and do not face dire consequences in future. We are currently preparing a Sahel resilience strategy.

Food security in west Africa is indeed threatened by climate change. Does the Minister also agree that the Prime Minister’s insistence on addressing the property rights of the world’s poorest farmers tackles one of the underlying causes of food insecurity?

The Prime Minister is quite right. The work that we are doing to give land title to smallholders means that they have security and can work their land without it being taken from them.

I join Members from all sides of the House in expressing my support for the If campaign, which seeks to end food insecurity and global hunger. One of the main causes of food insecurity is the illegal acquisition of large areas of land by investors. What steps has the Department taken to support good land governance in west Africa?

As I said just now, some of our programmes involve land titles for smallholders, and the UK welcomes the successful negotiation of voluntary guidelines on the responsible government of land tenure, fisheries and forests that was concluded at the Committee on World Food Security last year. The UK is working to promote transparency of land administration and security of tenure in a number of countries. For example, in Mozambique we are helping local communities to register their land, and we want to continue that progress.