$13 billion pledged to feed world’s hungry

June 7, 2008

The high-level food security summit that ended last night in Rome garnered another $6 billion in new funding to tackle the global food crisis.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes said the figure of $6 billion is in addition to existing pledges of up to $7 billion that were also announced at the Conference on World Food Security.

The $13 billion amounts to nearly half the $30 billion a year the UN officials said is needed each year to eradicate hunger.

The funding will be going to smallholder farmers who need it most, said Holmes.

“We need to focus both on the immediate needs and on the longer-term issues starting right now and the focus is on the smallholder farmers in developing countries.”

“These are the people who need most help and where there is the most potential for increasing agricultural productivity and production,” he said.

Holmes, who also serves as the UN’s emergency relief coordinator, briefed reporters in New York on the plan reached in Rome to meet the crisis that soaring food prices have created worldwide.

Convened by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, the summit concluded with the adoption of the “Comprehensive Framework for Action.”

It calls on the international community to increase assistance for developing countries, in particular the least developed countries and those that are hardest hit by high food prices.

Increasing nutritional and other feeding programs, as well as supplying fertilizers, seeds, animal feed and veterinary services to help smallholder farmers in the current planting season, are among the immediate measures proposed in the Framework for Action.

The plan also calls for a reduction in export bans on food commodities, and focuses on the need for much greater investment in agricultural production in the longer term.

Commenting on the summit declaration, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, said that the international community needs to address the questions of power and accountability.

“Hunger is man-made,” he said. “What misguided policies have caused, better focused policies can undo.”



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