4 July:An additional 50 million people across the world face hunger as a result of soaring food prices, the United Nations has said, calling for stepped up global cooperation to boost food security in poor nations.
"Donor countries, international institutions, governments of developing countries, civil society and private sector have an important role to play in the global fight against hunger," Jacques Diouf, Director-General of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), told the European Parliament in Brussels.
He noted that the current crisis was triggered by a confluence of factors including increased use of biofuels, surging demand for agri products due to population and economic growth in emerging markets and inadequate supply of cereals — which is at its lowest levels in three decades.
Further aggravating these problems are restrictive protectionist measures taken by some exporting nations, speculation on futures markets and high prices of agricultural inputs such as fertilizer, he added.
He also said that climate change is playing a substantial role, with the world losing between 5 and 10 million hectares of agricultural land annually due to severe degradation.
The consequence of a global temperature rise of over three degrees could be a drop in major crop yields by 20 to 40 per cent in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
"The present situation is a result of international community’s neglect of agriculture in developing countries for a long time," Diouf said on Thursday.
Bolstered public and private investment is needed to enhance production in developing countries, he said, pointed out that proportion of agriculture in official development assistance has plummeted from 17 per cent in 1980 to 3 per cent in 2006, while investment in agri research in developing countries is shy of 0.6 per cent of GDP.