World needs $30 billion yearly to eradicate hunger (Second lead)

June 3rd, 2008 - 7:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Rome, June 3 (Xinhua) The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Tuesday appealed to world leaders for $30 billion a year to re-launch agriculture and avert future threats of conflicts over food. In a speech at a summit called to defuse the current world food crisis, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf noted that in 2006, the world spent $1,200 billion on arms while food wasted in a single country could cost $100 billion and excess consumption by the world’s obese amounted to $20 billion.

“Against that backdrop, how can we explain to people of good sense and good faith that it was not possible to find $30 billion a year to enable 862 million hungry people to enjoy the most fundamental of human rights: the right to food and thus the right to life?” Diouf said.

“The structural solution to the problem of food security in the world lies in increasing production and productivity in the low-income, food-deficit countries,” he added.

Despite the World Food Summit’s solemn pledge in 1996 to halve world food hunger by 2015, resources to finance agricultural programs in developing countries had not only failed to rise but decreased significantly since then.

In cooperation with FAO, developing countries did in fact prepare programmes and policies which, if they had received appropriate funding, would have ensured world food security.

“Today the facts speak for themselves: from 1980 to 2005 aid to agriculture fell from $8 billion to $3.4 billion, representing a reduction in real terms of 58 percent. Moreover, agriculture’s share of official development assistance (ODA) fell from 17 percent in 1980 to three percent in 2006,” Diouf added.

There were 862 million people in the world without adequate access to food, he said, adding that the current food crisis went beyond the traditional humanitarian dimension because it also affected developed countries, where it fuelled inflation.

“If we do not urgently take the courageous decisions that are required in the present circumstances, the restrictive measures taken by producing countries to meet the needs of their populations, the impact of climate change and speculation on futures markets will place the world in a dangerous situation,” Diouf warned.

DPA adds: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged world leaders attending the meet to lift trade restrictions, taxes and other price controls that have helped spur food prices to their highest levels in 30 years.

“You all know the severity of the global food crisis … I have seen it for myself. In Liberia recently, I met people who normally would buy rice by the bag. Today, they buy it by the cup,” Ban said.

He was addressing delegates from some 50 countries, including dozens of heads of state and government, at the UN Conference on World Food Security’s inaugural ceremony.

The UN secretary-general stressed the need to eliminate trade and taxation policies that “distort markets” but said such “parallel” tracks should not distract donors from the “immediate needs” of some 850 million people who face hunger.

Pope Benedict XVI implored world leaders to seek the eradication of hunger which the pontiff said has no place in the modern world.

“Millions of men and women look up to you, while new dangers threaten their survival and worrying situations put at risk the security of their nations,” Benedict said in a message delivered to the summit by the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

“Hunger and malnutrition are unacceptable in a world where the levels of production, resources and knowledge are enough to bring an end to these type of dilemmas and their consequences,” Bertone said, reading the pontiff’s message.

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