Food Summit calls for more investment in agriculture

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New Delhi, June 6 (UNI) The Summit on soaring food prices, convened by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), today concluded in Rome with the adoption of a declaration calling on the international community for immediate humanitarian assistance to those countries that are hardest hit by high food prices.

''There is an urgent need to help developing countries and countries in transition to expand agriculture and food production, and increase investment in agriculture, agribusiness and rural development, from both public and private sources,'' according to the declaration.

Donors and international financial institutions are urged to provide ''balance of payment support and budget support to food-importing low-income countries. Other measures should be considered as necessary to improve the financial situation of the countries in need, including reviewing debt servicing as necessary,'' it said.

The final declaration also called on governments to ''assure'' United Nations agencies ''the resources to expand and enhance their food assistance and support safety net programmes to address hunger and malnutrition, when appropriate, through the use of local or regional purchases.'' Speaking on the growing social threat from rising food prices at the opening of the Summit, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said, ''What is important today is to realise that the time for talking is long past. Now is the time for action.'' FAO Assistant Director-General Alexander Mueller said, ''Clearly this Summit has decided to act. It has called for both immediate humanitarian assistance to those hardest hit by the current food price crisis and that it has taken actions. It should go a long way in considering the driving forces of food system to reduce the number of hungry people in the world, helping us to meet the World Food Summit and Millennium Development Goals.'' The Declaration calls for ''development partners'' to participate in and contribute ''to international and regional initiatives on soaring food prices'' and ''assist countries to put in place the revised policies and measures to help farmers, particularly small-scale producers, to increase production and integrate with local, regional and international markets.'' More UNI JSS BDP NS1926

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