World needs USD 30 bln/year to eradicate scourge of hunger

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New Delhi, Jun 3 (UNI) Realising that the time for talk was over and action was urgently needed, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf today appealed to world leaders to contribute 30 billion dollars a year to re-launch agriculture and avert future threats of conflicts over food.

In an impassioned speech at the opening of the Rome Summit called to defuse the current world food crisis, Dr Diouf noted that in 2006 the world spent 200 billion dollars on arms while food wasted in a single country could cost 100 billion dollar and excess consumption by the world's obese amounted to 20 billion dollars, according to a release from Rome.

''Against that backdrop, how can we explain to people of good sense and good faith that it was not possible to find 30 billion dollar 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?'' Dr Diouf asked.

''It is resources of this order of magnitude that would make it possible to lay to rest the specter of conflicts over food that are looming on the horizon,'' he added.

''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 declared.

This called for ''innovative and imaginative solutions,'' including ''partnership agreements ... between countries that have financial resources, management capabilities and technologies and countries that have land, water and human resources.'' The current world food crisis already had ''tragic political and social consequences in different countries'' and could further ''endanger world peace and security,'' Dr Diouf said.

But the crisis was in an essence of "chronicle of disaster foretold,'' he noted. Despite the World Food Summit's solemn pledge in 1996 to halve world food hunger by 2015, resources to finance agricultural programmes in developing countries had not only failed to rise but decreased significantly since then.

''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 population, the impact of climate change and speculation on future markets will place the world in a dangerous situation,'' Dr Diouf warned.

Sustainable and viable global solutions were needed to narrow the gap between supply and demand, he said. Otherwise ''whatever the extent of their financial reserves, some countries might not be able to buy food.'' The Director-General noted that contradictions and distortions at international policy level had contributed to the current crisis.

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