‘Only 10 percent of $22 bn pledged for food materialised’

October 16th, 2008 - 10:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Rome, Oct 16 (DPA) Only 10 percent of the $22 billion pledged by international donors earlier this year to promote global food security has materialised so far, the head of a UN food agency said Thursday.Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Jacques Diouf made his comments at a ceremony marking World Food Day at the agency’s Rome headquarters.

“I wish to reaffirm that we know what needs to be done to eradicate the hunger of 923 million people in the world. We also know what needs to be done to double world food production and feed a population that is expected to rise to 9 billion people by 2050,” Diouf said.

Referring to the outstanding amount of aid Diouf added: “What we need … is political will and delivery on financial commitments, if we are to be able to make the essential investments that are needed to promote sustainable agricultural development and food security in the poorest countries of the world.”

In a keynote speech at the ceremony, Egypt’s First Lady Suzanne Mubarak said that the food crisis merited a rescue effort on par with the international response to the financial and credit crisis.

“We have just witnessed how $700 billion were raised in record time to salvage the financial markets. How similar injections were made to salvage financial banks,” Mubarak said.

“I believe that the scale of the food crisis is of such magnitude that it warrants nothing less than the same swift and decisive measures to curb its lethal progression,” she added. “Let us all remember that it is the lives of millions of people that are hanging in the balance.”

Pope Benedict XVI, in a message read at the ceremony by Monsignor Renato Volante, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the FAO, said that a lasting solution to hunger in the world lay in the promotion of an international order based on social justice.

The world produced enough food to feed a growing population, the pope noted. If people went hungry, it was partly because of a “race for consumption” which “imposes forced reductions on the nutritional capacity of the world’s poorest regions”.

Climate change and bio-energy are the focus of this year’s World Food Day - which is celebrated annually on the day FAO was founded in 1945.

Activities involving over 150 countries are planned to mark the event, including the third Run for Food. The popular event will take place Oct 19 in Rome with more than 4,000 people. A similar event is scheduled to be held simultaneously in Milan.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and former US president Bill Clinton are slated to participate, together with Diouf and the heads of other UN agencies, in a World Food Day ceremony at the United Nations in New York Oct 23.

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