UN officials urge actions as one billion people go hungry
www.chinaview.cn 2009-01-27 04:47:38   Print

    MADRID, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- Senior UN and international agency officials urged here on Monday actions against food crisis when almost one billion people in the world are going hungry.

Jacques Diouf, director of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), speaks at the opening ceremony of the "High Level Meeting on Food Security" in Madrid, capital of Spain, Jan. 26, 2009. Representatives from 95 countries took part in this two-day meeting. (Xinhua/Chen Haitong)
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    "With an expected increase of 40 million in 2008, the world today has reached 963 million people who are malnourished," said Jacques Diouf, Task Force vice-chairman and Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, at the opening of a Madrid meeting on Food Security for All.

    "This signifies that right now there are almost one billion who are hungry, out of the 6.5 billion who make up the world population," the UN official said.

    The FAO Director-General called for an investment of 30 billion U.S. dollars per year in agriculture of developing countries to double food production by 2050 and ensure the basic right to food for all people.

    Chiefs of key international agencies at the two-day meeting pledged to step up commitments against hunger and malnutrition.

    "I welcome Prime Minister Zapatero's timely initiative to call this meeting to address the crucial issue of food security," said Lennart Bage, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

    "Prices have fallen from their peaks in 2008, but the food crisis has not gone away. Nearly one billion people go hungry everyday and the underlying trends show that global agricultural production cannot keep up with rising demand," he said.

    The world's 450 million small-holder farms can increase production, lifting millions of poor farm families out of poverty, while helping to feed the world, if they get the support and investment they need, he said, adding that he believes a global partnership for agriculture and food security can help to ensure that they get it.

People dressed as maize protest against the production for biofuel rather than for food outside the venue of the "High Level Meeting on Food Security" in Madrid, capital of Spain, Jan. 26, 2009. Representatives from 95 countries took part in this two-day meeting. (Xinhua/Chen Haitong)(
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    "When the food crisis hit last year, the world came together in the largest emergency response to hunger and malnutrition in human history," said Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Program (WFP).

    As the financial crisis hits the hungry even harder, she said, "we must sustain these unprecedented efforts to meet the urgent food and nutritional needs of the most vulnerable people, while promoting small-holder farmers and agriculture."

    She added that the WFP needs 5.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2009 to provide food and nutrition assistance and safety net support to almost 100 million people, including small-holder farmers and 20 million children in school feeding programs.

    "The risks for the world's poor cannot be underestimated," said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, managing director of the World Bank. "Food prices are highly volatile. Millions are malnourished. We need to draw on the experience of governments of the countries concerned, who have been dealing with the realities on the ground throughout. We have solutions and results, but funds are needed for scaling them up, to ensure that those who are most vulnerable get the assistance they need."

People dressed as maize protest against the production for biofuel rather than for food outside the venue of the "High Level Meeting on Food Security" in Madrid, capital of Spain, Jan. 26, 2009. Representatives from 95 countries took part in this two-day meeting. (Xinhua/Chen Haitong)(
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    The High-Level Meeting on Food Security for All follows through on the June 2008 "food summit" in Rome.

    In the June 5 Rome Declaration, 181 states and the European Community pledged to alleviate the suffering caused by soaring food prices, stimulate agricultural development, food and small-holder farmer production, and address obstacles to food access and adequate nutrition.

    The High Level Meeting on Food Security for All, a UN meeting hosted and organized by the Spanish government and co-sponsored by the United Nations, is intended to raise the political profile of hunger and food security, develop new partnerships and increase resources.

    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Spanish Prime Minister Rodriquez Zapatero will co-chair Tuesday's plenary session, along with leaders of think-tanks, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.

Editor: Yan
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