Neglect of agriculture led to food crisis: UN

May 7th, 2008 - 5:51 pm ICT by admin  

New York, May 7 (IANS) A lack of investment in agriculture over a long period and the use of precious natural resources for biofuel production have contributed to the current global food crisis, according to United Nations development experts. Kathleen Abdalla of the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) said at a news conference here Tuesday that while populations have grown and diets have changed, investment in agriculture as well as aid for it have been lagging for a long time.

“Certainly it’s not been a high priority for development assistance and basically the productivity growth hasn’t kept pace with the increase in demand,” said Abdalla.

Abdalla, in charge of DESA’s division for sustainable development, was speaking on the second day of the session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. The commission’s two-week session is deliberating on boosting the world’s food supply and addressing issues of poverty, hunger and environment including agriculture, land use, rural development, desertification and drought.

Aslam Chaudhry, DESA’s chief of the water and natural resources branch, blamed the use of crops for biofuel production for contributing to the current worldwide rise in food prices, since “they depend quite heavily on land and water resources - so we are using our precious natural resources for the production of these crops”.

Chaudhry added that at the same time poor people in developing countries do not have food and had those natural resources been managed for the production of cereal crops, the world might not have faced this crisis.

Last week UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon formed a global task force to prepare a plan of action to tackle rising food prices. The group, which brings together the heads of key UN agencies, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as experts from around the globe, will hold its first meeting in New York Monday.

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