There are four main findings of Nexus Foundation of the last four years (2010 – 2014):

1. From Market- to Development Orientation

Market orientation, as it is posed in the preambula of he WTO Agreement on Agriculture (which is often read as “export orientation”) leads agriculture to specialization and industrialization. This form of agriculture cheapens food down, mainly for urban dwellers, but only offers poor job occasions for rural people, where the main hunger prevails. Besides, it is environmentally damaging. Agriculture needs a development orientation – development of soil fertility, site adapted breeding possibilities, animal welfare and adequate (not just calories), nutritous (not just fortified micronutrients) and healthy food for development.

main publication:

Fuchs, N. 2014: From Market- to Development-Orientation – The Trade Aspect of Food Security. In: Future of Food – Journal for Agriculture, Food and Society, June 2014 pdf: From_Market_to_Development_Orientation_Fuchs

2. Trade formula: “Regional/Local is First Choice”

Agriculture and food markets are of regionale nature – they preserve diversity and trust. Both is best served by regional production (which might be complemented by (international) trade. So the trade formula for agriculture would be: “Regiona/Local is first choice”

main publication:

Fuchs, N. u. Hoffmann, U. 2013: Ensuring Food Security and Environmental Resilience – The Need for Supportive Agricultural Trade Rules. in: UNCTAD Trade and Environment Review 2013

3. Trade rule for agriculture and food markets: allowance for preference (rather than protection)

In public procurement schemes especially, there should be a general allowance for local preference purchase.

main publication:

Fuchs, N. 2014: Freihandelsverträge, öffentliches Beschaffungswesen und Ernährungssouveränität. In: Kultur und Politik 2/14

4. The specificity of agriculture and food

The specificity of agriculture1 and food is due to the following characteristics2:

  • Agriculture is bound to the land

Agriculture cannot be moved (e.g. to more favourable conditions). And, as population growth is approaching 9bn people and the right to food is to be fulfilled, every plot of reclaimable land (except forests) must be under cultivation. This means, some form of production will always remain even in unfavourable areas. Therefore food production in unfavourable areas needs special conditions to exist. “ The comparative advantage theory for agriculture is restricted.

  • Agricultures specialization potential is limited

Agriculture is based on nature. Nature is living on interaction, on diversity. A certain amount of (bio)diversity is required for agriculture to function sustainably; one can lower agricultural diversity with the help of chemical inputs down to monocultures, but this, in the end, causes environmental damage and biodiversity loss. Given the international treaties on environmental and biodiversity protection the Riccardian law of comparative advantage, directing production into specialization is – for agriculture – only of limited value. Diverse production needs different marketing measures than specialized production.

  • Agricultural markets are extremely exposed to price volatility

Food prices are extremely volatile. “ This gives some need for stabilization measures.

  • Food is essential to people

Exporting countries, caring for their people release export restrictions if felt to be necessary. Being fully dependent on imports is therefore too risky for countries. Countries have to look for some amount of self sufficiency, whatsoever (that is, why countries after the 2008 hunger-crisis started to purchase land abroad), and some form of food reserves.

  • Food is not just calories

Food should be fresh (where appropriate), diverse and (culturally) adequate. Obesity is a threat, besides hunger. Food-intake is strongly correlated to cultural habits. Therefore food is a sensitive item. „Calories intake per day“ doesn’t represent peoples relationship to – adequate – food. “ It’s full nourishment, that matters. Food extends delivery of just ‘food stuff’.

  • Food should be safe

Food is strongly endangered to cheating, as food is consumed entirely (no guarantee follow-ups) as food scandals show frequently. Especially long, anonymus value chains are risky. “ The globalization potential of food is limited.

  • Food is strongly correlated to trust

People want to trust in their food and identify with it. “ The proximity principle is true for food.

-> The specificity of agriculture and food is best represented by regional/local preferences as backbone for agricultural and food markets – regional/local being first choice.

„The discussion of multifunctionality confirms that agriculture is special and that the Agreement on Agriculture is special within the WTO.“ (McMahon, Joseph A., 2006: The WTO Agreement on Agriculture: a commentary. p. 222)

Extract (slightly changed) from the upcoming publication: Fuchs, Nikolai 2013: The trade side of food security – The role of the WTO. In: Albrecht, S., et al. (Eds.): The Future of Food. Berlin