Stories tagged: hunger

FAO Issues Progress Report on the Status of African Agricultural Growth

In the lead-up to its High-Level Expert Forum in Rome this October, the FAO has issued a cautiously optimistic progress report on the state of the African agricultural sector, as reported in a recent article by Voice of America.

The FAO has calculated that agriculture has grown by 3.5% in 2008, largely due to better policies and more uptake of new technologies such as drought-resistant rice.

Keith Wiebe, FAO’s Deputy Director of the Agricultural Development Economics division, said:

After a long period of neglect, the importance of agriculture is becoming more clear to all of us.  And that is resulting in improvements in some of the supporting services and infrastructure that are the real obstacle to improved growth in Africa.

Women are a key part of the agricultural workforce as they represent about 80% of those working in the sector.  They will be expected to double food production in order to feed an African population that is set to grow from 770 million in 2005 to over billion by mid-century.

FAO Warns that World Food Output Must Rise by 70%

A recent announcement by the FAO states that world food output must rise by 70% by 2050 to meet projected demand from a growing population and changing diets.

Global cereal demand must increase by about 50%, from 2.1 billion tonnes today to 3 billion tonnes by 205.  Over the same period, meat output must increase by almost 75% by 2050 to 470 million tonnes.

A massive 90% of the needed output is expected to come from higher yields, but the area of land under cultivation is also expected to grow by 120 million hectares.  These increases are most likely to occur in developing regions with large supplies of land per capita, such as sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.

Pope Calls for Increased Agricultural Investment

1916676488_c4a0b5427ePope Benedict XVI has issued an his third encyclical calling for a restructured global economy.  In it, he also calls for an increased role for agricultural investment in helping to alleviate hunger and poverty in the developing world.

An article by the Associated Press says that the Pope:

specified that aid should go to agicultural development to improve infrastructure, irrigation systems, transport and sharing of agricultural technology.

“Silent Hunger Crisis”: FAO Estimates Over 1 Billion Hungry in the World

2626227998_f58850b534A 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.

Reuters Quotes Farming First’s Ajay Vashee on Food Security

3067940167_61b7fa1d6aIn a Reuters article published today, Farming First’s Ajay Vashee warned of the possibility of another food crisis, given increasing demand and finite resources.

He was joined by the Italian Agriculture Minister and a representative from the FAO in highlighting the need to address these food security and sustainability issues before they become even more serious.

The article also discusses how agriculture funding has not been prioritised compared with the subsideis given to the finance sector since last autumn:

Farmers from poor and rich countries alike want to get more funds for agriculture, saying the sector has been neglected since the economic crisis broke out…  Billions of dollars were poured out to prop up ailing banks, while funds are drying up to help the world’s almost 1 billion hungry, advocates for the poor say.

The G8 meeting takes place this weekend from 18-20 April.

“Crops with Attitude”: Developing New Seed Varietals for Africa

Newsweek recently ran an story about how Africans are increasingly weighing the benefits of plant biotechnology for coping with some of their most important development challenges, including climate change adaptation, reversing rising levels of hunger, and  better accessing markets.

The crops which result from this R&D are being called the second generation of biotechnology advancements:

The result is a second wave of GM food crops adapted to the needs of poor nations. Emerging nations are turning to gene splicing to boost food supply (not just agribusiness profits) and to protect harvests from the ravages of climate change, pests and pathogens. The new crops are hardier and healthier versions of staple crops.