June 23, 2011 / 4:31 PM / 7 years ago

France sees G20 farm deal as a first step

PARIS (Reuters) - A G20 farm deal agreed on Thursday is a good initial effort to tackle food price volatility and fight shortages and should encourage investment in agricultural output, France’s agriculture minister said.

“This is the way I see this agreement. A first step, a positive step, and also an impetus that has been given to investment in agriculture,” Bruno Le Maire told Reuters Insider TV shortly after G20 farm ministers agreed an action plan to curb food price volatility.

“We have given the impetus and I hope we will get the results of this in the coming months,” Le Maire added.

He expressed his satisfaction after months of tough negotiations, even though the deal fell short of calls by Paris for a tough crackdown on speculators France has partly blamed for a surge in food prices.

The deal by farm ministers of the Group of 20 leading economies steered clear of divisive details but paved the way to greater international cooperation on sensitive agricultural issues.

G20 members produce 85 percent of the world’s agricultural output. The action plan says that farm production will have to rise by 70 percent by 2050 to feed over 9 billion people.

“We need more private and public investment in agriculture especially for development countries in Africa or in South Asia,” Le Maire said.

G20 ministers “strongly encouraged” finance ministers to take decisions for better regulation of agricultural financial markets, leaving it up to them to adopt concrete measures.

“We are all aware that at the core of excessive prices volatility there is a lack of production but speculation has also a negative effect,” Le Maire said. “That’s why we decided to fight against it and to put some concrete specific measures on financial regulation.”

Writing by Sybille de La Hamaide

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