UN official appeals for greater attention to food security sitution in Africa

May 7th, 2010 - 4:42 am ICT by BNO News  

UNITED NATIONS (BNO NEWS) – The head of the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Thursday appealed for greater attention to be focused on the food security situation in sub-Saharan Africa, where nearly one third of the population is hungry.

With nearly 270 million people malnourished out of a total population in the region of over 800 million, the situation “clearly demands our urgent and undivided attention,” said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf. He attributed under-investment in agriculture as the core reason for hunger and malnutrition on the continent.

Only nine Africa countries have allocated at least ten percent of their budgets to agriculture, while official development assistance (ODA) from wealthier countries earmarked for farming in developing countries has dropped off from 19 percent in 1980 to around five percent today.

Diouf said that with political will and good governance, “Africa will be able to develop its agriculture to adequately feed its population.”

Despite the toll taken by the recent economic crisis, the downturn has placed “agriculture and food security at the heart of national and regional development policies and programmes, which allowed us to look to the next decade with great optimism,” he said.

The FAO said that ranging from limited access to water to poor rural infrastructure, African agriculture faces multiple hurdles and it must make significant strides in the coming decades to ensure sustainable food production and achieve food security.

“The continent is rich in arable land, water and labour, and the agency said that with appropriate policies, Africa can boost its farm production and incomes,” said a spokesperson for the UN.

In 2008, Africa produced more than 150 million tons of cereals, marking a 12 percent jump from the previous year. It’s projected that cereal production in 2009 could reach 160 million tons.

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