A recently published report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has announced that the total population of those going hungry has surpassed the 1 billion person mark for the first time in history.
“A dangerous mix of the global economic slowdown combined with stubbornly high food prices in many countries has pushed some 100 million more people than last year into chronic hunger and poverty,” said Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the FAO. “The silent hunger crisis — affecting one sixth of all of humanity — poses a serious risk for world peace and security.”
The report argues that the rise in hunger levels is largely the result of the global economic recession. Fewer remittances are being received and international trade and investment have slowed down, affecting local economies in the developing world.
Sub-Saharan Africa has the most dense pockets of hunger in the world. Many of the countries in this region have hunger levels of over 35% of their populations. Areas of south Asia — notably India — also have high levels of food poverty.
To address these issues, the FAO and other UN agencies have called for a reinvigorated investment in agriculture, particularly in the poorest and most vulnerable regions. Of these affected areas, Jacques Diouf of the FAO said that they “must be given the development, economic and policy tools required to boost their agricultural production and productivity.”
Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), also added:
Many of the world’s poor and hungry are smallholder farmers in developing countries. Yet they have the potential not only to meet their own needs but to boost food security and catalyse broader economic growth. To unleash this potential and reduce the number of hungry people in the world, governments, supported by the international community, need to protect core investments in agriculture so that smallholder farmers have access not only to seeds and fertilisers but to tailored technologies, infrastructure, rural finance, and markets.