Food crises are jeopardizing efforts to achieve the United Nations’ millennium development goal of halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by 2015. According to an annual report on world hunger, food price volatility is likely to continue and perhaps even increase, making poor farmers, consumers and countries more vulnerable to poverty and food insecurity.
Population growth, increasing demand from rapidly growing economies and biofuels will place additional demands on the food system, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad) and the World Food Programme (WFP) said in their joint report.
“Even if the MDG were achieved by 2015, some 600 million people in developing countries would still be undernourished,” said UN experts. “Having 600 million people suffering from hunger on a daily basis is never acceptable. The entire international community must act today and act forcefully to banish food insecurity from the planet.”
The report emphasized that investment in agriculture, particularly small farmers, remains critical to sustainable, long-term food security. Investment is required in irrigation, improved land-management practices and better seeds developed through agricultural research.
NGOs point out that developed countries have yet to live up to their pledge to invest $22bn in agriculture development. The money was promised at L’Aquila, Italy in 2009, following food crises that triggered riots in 30 countries across three continents.
The report said predictable policies and openness to trade were more effective strategies for governments than export bans and other restrictive policies, which risk increasing volatility and high prices on international markets.
© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
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