UN urges Africa to take steps to avert food price rise

June 17th, 2008 - 10:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Nairobi, June 17 (Xinhua) The United Nations food agency Tuesday called on African governments to urgently come up with solutions to curb the soaring food prices sparked by surge in energy and commodities prices by increasing their production. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Deputy Director Madibo Traore said that African governments had failed to realize the role of agriculture as only six out of the 53 nations in the continent offered the sector more than 10 percent budgetary allocations.

“Most of our countries have ended up importing over 50 percent of their food requirements. Commodities like rice, milk and wheat come from outside and if nothing is done these trends could accelerate in coming years,” he said at the 25th regional conference of FAO being under way in Nairobi

Traore reminded the delegates from various countries that there was potential in the continent only that countries were not exploiting their existing resources.

He stressed that a concerted regional approach was required for all the nations to achieve a sustainable permanent solution.

“We cannot base everything on smallholder farms. We need to modernize them to produce more. Governments need to offer support to a certain level of intensification particularly in research in the context of climatic changes and increasing food prices,” he said.

Some delegates attending the conference urged African states to implement the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and take advantage of existing opportunities within the region such as the availability of quality seeds at the African Centre for Seeds in Central Africa.

The African ministers have gathered in Nairobi for a week-long meeting to discuss food security as the continent is facing food crisis sparked by global surge in energy and commodity prices.

The meeting which will officially be opened Thursday and addressed by the FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf, is discussing ways of boosting agriculture and food security.

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