New York: Rising food prices have pushed 75 million more people into the ranks of the world’s famished, and threaten efforts to realize the goal of halving the number of those in hunger by 2015, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today. According to new figures released by the agency ahead of next week’s General Assembly high-level event on the global anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the number of people suffering from hunger is now roughly 925 million.
Contributing to this growth is soaring food, fuel and fertilizer prices, FAO said. Food prices rose 52 per cent between 2007 and 2008, and fertilizer prices have nearly doubled over the past year. The hardest hit have been the poorest, the landless and female-headed households.
“The devastating effects of high food prices on the number of hungry people compound already worrisome long-term trends,” said Hafez Ghanem, FAO Assistant Director-General for Economic and Social Development. “Hunger increased as the world grew richer and produced more food than ever during the last decade.”
Not only does this development impact efforts to achieve the hunger-related MDG, but it also affects progress towards many of the Goals, said Mr. Ghanem. Hunger negatively impacts labour productivity, health and education, all factors for economic growth. “Reducing the number of hungry people by 500 million in the remaining seven years to 2015 will require an enormous and resolute global effort and concrete actions,” he added.
FAO stressed the need for action on two fronts – making food accessible to the most vulnerable, and helping small producers raise their output and earn more. In December 2007 the agency launched its Initiative on Soaring Food Prices to help vulnerable countries boost food supplies and improve access to food. Measures include the distribution of seeds, fertilizer, animal feed and other farming tools and supplies to smallholder farmers.
“Urgent, broad-based and large-scale investments are needed to address in a sustainable manner the growing food insecurity problems affecting the poor and hungry,” said Mr. Ghanem. “No single country or institution will be able to resolve this crisis on its own.”- UN News Service