22 Oct 2014

Christian Häberli addresses food security conference

Dr Häberli took part in a roundtable discussion.

How can the world feed its population – expected to grow to over eight billion over the next 20 years – when one person in eight is already experiencing hunger? The Academia Engelberg Dialogue on Science from 15 to 17 October discussed approaches to resolve this problem.

Some 180 scientists from around the world took part, representing many different disciplines. Among them was Senior WTI researcher Christian Häberli who gave an address entitled "Swiss Trade and Investment Policies for more Food Security?"

Switzerland has few resources yet is one of the most food-secure countries in the world with an abundant food supply, relatively low retail prices in terms of purchasing power parity, and few poverty traps, he argued. Domestic production covers 70 percent of net domestic consumption and a vast and efficient food reserve scheme insures against import disruptions.

Nonetheless, Switzerland is limited in the contribution it can make to food security: Swiss agriculture is protected by the world’s highest tariffs and is hugely subsidised. Missing are trade and investment policies which would keep markets open, development policies which would provide African farmers with the tools to become more competitive, and supply policies which would work against speculators.

Dr Häberli put the case for Switzerland to resume a process of agricultural reform, to join other countries in trying to prevent predatory behaviour by Swiss investors in developing countries, and to regionalise its food reserve strategy.

Dr Häberli’s powerpoint presentation can be found here.