ROME, ITALY — A set of recommendations aimed at reducing food price volatility and enhancing vulnerable populations' resilience to price shocks has been agreed by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) announced on Oct. 26.

CFS is the foremost inclusive international and intergovernmental platform for all stakeholders to work together to ensure food security and nutrition for all. During its 37th session, which was held at FAO, from Oct. 17-22, the committee tackled important food security issues including food price volatility, investment in smallholder agriculture and gender, food security and nutrition.

One important meeting outcome aims to reduce food price volatility at the world market level by enhancing transparency and information-sharing and strengthening the coordination of responses. The committee urged major food producing and consuming countries to participate in the new Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) established by the G20 and collaborate towards providing the international community with high-quality and timely market information products.

Linking the growth of biofuels market with food price volatility, CFS noted that biofuels should be produced where they are socially, economically and environmentally feasible. Where appropriate, governments should review biofuel policies with an eye to the opportunities and challenges they may present for food security.

Among actions to mitigate the negative effects of food price volatility, CFS recommended that governments play an increased role by developing stable, long-term national social protection strategies and safety nets, aimed at vulnerable populations in particular.

It also recommended that national and local social safety nets and local purchasing mechanisms should be used, whenever appropriate, for the delivery of food aid.

On investment in smallholder agriculture CFS recommended an increase in stable and sustainable public and private investment to strengthen smallholder production, boost agricultural productivity and foster rural development.

Another central issue was that of agricultural investment policy. Here CFS urged member governments to ensure that public investments help support smallholders' own investments, with particular attention to women farmers.

Agricultural policies and public investment should give priority to food production and nutrition and increase the resilience of local and traditional food systems and biodiversity, with a focus on strengthening sustainable smallholder food production, the committee said.

Other priority areas flagged during the CFS talks as needing attention include reducing post-harvest losses and fostering smallholder-inclusive local, national and regional food markets including transportation, storage and processing.

The committee also called for a "significant expansion" of agricultural research and funding, including strengthening the work of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a global partnership of research organizations and funders.