Paraguay's Policy on Rising Food Prices and Child Malnutrition

Model United Nations Research Paper

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2009

16 Pages, Grade: 95.5


I. Topic Description

Growing population elevates demand; and obviously, the world population has not ceased in its growth. Global food prices increased over 83 percent in the past three years, according to the World Bank Group[1]. Considering the world economy's decline, trade sanctions and inefficient use of land, the disposition may worsen. Food price inflation “will depend on how global supply will respond and on whether demand will continue to grow as rapidly as in the recent past”[2]. This issue affects everyone: consumers, sellers, merchandisers—from the wealthy to the poor. Unfortunately, the poorest reportedly devote three-fourths of their earnings buying food, and millions are undernourished[3]. Hunger and poverty exist in strong correlation; high food prices hamper progress towards the first target in the Millennium Development Goals, to halve the proportion of the people making under a dollar a day and the people going hungry from 1990 levels. More people will forgo proper meals if this trend of rising food prices persists. Even worse, the crisis “threatens to undo all our good work,”[4].

II. Past United Nations Actions

The UN saw the need to respond with a broad range of initiatives when FAO warned of greater food price inflation in early June 20 07[5]. The frontline agency for hunger solutions in the UN, World Food Programme (WFP), appealed for US$755 million to cover the high costs of food and fuel. This request was met the third week of May 2008 and the following month, WFP

Republic of Paraguay, WFP, Response and Adaptation to Food Price Inflation advocated local production in nutritious foods through the Global Response to High Food Prices. In addition, the UN set up local food, cash and voucher programs approved during the same month[6]. Before the new year, a cash package of US$5.2 billion in December 2008 targeted hunger “hotspots” in Asia, Africa and in conflict areas, where hunger is most severe. Asides from providing financial aid and founding project initiatives, the UN conducted extensive research on food price inflation and released possible policy-changes: FAO's Initiative on Soaring Food Prices in December 2007 and the WB's New Deal on Global Food Policy in April 2008, endorsed by 150 countries. The UN hosts multiple awareness campaigns; most notably, WFP partnered with the popular non-profit in sponsoring educational development and in combating hunger.

III. Delegation Policy

The Republic of Paraguay is challenged by food price inflation. In some respects Paraguay's agricultural-based economy profited from higher demand of commodities; however, 270,000 Paraguayans were pushed into extreme poverty due to high food prices in 2007, and could affect another 140,000 this upcoming year[7]. President Fernando Lugo expressed his intent in national reform during the August 2008 inauguration; his words: “I don't want a country where some don't sleep because of fear or hunger”[8]. Since the 1996 World Food Summit in Asuncion, Paraguay, the country worked closely with NGOs in favor of food security. One such example is “Invertir en la gente” (Invest in the People) in Paraguay, which analyses the impact of social spending in the living conditions of people. Paraguay promotes awareness of global food

Republic of Paraguay, WFP, Response and Adaptation to Food Price Inflation insecurity by participating in World Food day, and the country has been experimenting with sugarcane ethanol (an efficacious source of energy compared to American grain), though opinions differ on the merit of bio-fuels in agriculture. Hunger is not a large problem in the Republic of Paraguay, but the country has yet to overcome the poor-rich divide, and seeks appropriate responses to global food price inflation.

IV. Proposed Solutions

Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food”[9] [10]. Since adequate food is a human right, the corresponding obligation in lowering food price inflation does not end at national borders. Food price inflation pressures each government to respond differently, but given this international forum—this WFP committee-, nations have the opportunity to form global solutions. The international community must react with short term, medium and long term intentions the Initiative on Soaring Food Prices advised. This section introduces three initiatives supported by the Republic of Paraguay:

- annulling food export bans;
- strengthening governments; and
- continuing WFP fundraising efforts.

“Not all countries have the same capacity to accommodate and execute additional safety net and food policy spending” as quoted from WB's Rising Food Prices: Policy Options[10], so it is necessary that the international community minify the obstacles. At present, twenty-nine

Republic of Paraguay, WFP, Response and Adaptation to Food Price Inflation countries blocked trade exports to guarantee domestic supplies remain cheap. UN Secretary- General Ki-Moon said the trade bans perpetuate the food crisis as it "threatens to distort international trade and exacerbate shortages"[11]. Sanctions disrupt the trade market; nations must realize this erroneous conduct is detrimental to global economy. Inflation swells in countries which rely on imports. Even worse, these bans are guises for private hoarding. An option for skeptical nations, or countries unwilling to completely give up their trade embargoes, is to consider a four-month trial run sans internal trade restrictions. Eminence of one country's policy can galvanize others to follow the example. The sooner nations do away with trade barriers; the sooner we can eradicate hunger “hotspots”. Though a short-term solution, this lifts some burden from struggling nations.

In December 1994, WFP was the first UN organization to adopt a mission statement. Accordingly, its objectives should adapt to changing times. Building administration adeptness in handling hunger-relief alongside UNDP can be another WFP objective. FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf was quoted, “No person of conscience can deny the moral imperative to help people who are unable to feed themselves.” He digressed, “in many cases food aid is used because it is the only available resource, not because it is the best solution to the problem at hand”[12]. UN food distribution operations are neither permanent nor long-term solutions to world- hunger—but active governments, especially under the correct guidance, are. Clarifying, active governments ratify policies affirming food as a human right and inform civilians on aid is offered by either the government or regional NGOs.


[1] (Rising Food Prices: Policy Options and World Bank Response 2008)

[2] (ibid. 5)

[3] (Alfonzo 244; Hossain 50).

[4] (Ki-Moon, “Opportunity”)

[5] (“Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations” website)

[6] (“More in the Food Basket”, IRIN)

[7] (Vargas, IPS 2008)

[8] (Bridges, “Paraguay”)

[9] (Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

[10] (op. cit. 1948)

[11] (“Remarks”)

[12] (FAO Media Relations 2007)

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Paraguay's Policy on Rising Food Prices and Child Malnutrition
Model United Nations Research Paper
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Kathy Pham (Author), 2009, Paraguay's Policy on Rising Food Prices and Child Malnutrition, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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