Experts: nearly 1 billion hungry people in world
BARCHFIELD, Capital Press 5/6/09
PARIS (AP) -
The number of hungry people in the world could soon hit a record 1
billion, despite a recent drop in food prices, the U.N. food aid
organization said Wednesday.
The recent financial crisis, though it has helped bring global
food prices down, also has led to falling trade and lower
development aid, according to the Food and Agriculture
Organization's general director, Jacques Diouf.
As a result of the crisis, an additional 104 million people were
likely to go hungry this year - meaning they receive fewer than
1,800 calories a day, Diouf told reporters after a two-day meeting
in Paris between the FAO and the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development.
"We have never seen so many hungry people in the world," Diouf
The number of people considered hungry increased last year as
well, by 40 million, and in 2007, when 75 million more people
joined the ranks, Diouf said.
If the projection for 2009 proves accurate, that would mean that
approximately 1 billion people - or roughly one-sixth of the
world's population - will hungry by the end of the year, he said.
"Food security is a matter of peace and security in the world," he
said, stressing that the food production will have to double by
2050 just to keep pace with population growth.
Despite a 30 percent drop in food prices from June 2008, overall
food prices still remain above 2006 levels, Diouf said. In the
developing world, however, food prices have dropped only 12-14
percent since June 2008, he said.
Surveys show that prices of basic staple foods in many poor
countries have barely registered any drop.
Higher food prices spurred a 12-13 percent increase in production
in wealthy countries. But developing countries - excluding giants
such as China, Brazil and India - have only seen a 0.4 percent
rise in food production, "which is totally offset by the increase
in population," Diouf said.
Systemic problems - such as weak infrastructure and dependence on
rain - are to blame for poor nations' near-stagnant production.
Bad roads in rural areas, lack of proper food storage facilities
and a lack of irrigation infrastructure continue to keep farmers
in poor countries from producing more, Diouf said.
He and other experts at Wednesday's conference called a greater
percentage of development aid to poor countries to be spent on
Following the so-called Green Revolution of the 1970s - during
which crop yields and food production skyrocketed - aid money
spent on agriculture has dwindled from 17 percent of total aid to
just 3 percent.
"There is no way we will solve the problem of food security in the
world if we stay in this situation," Diouf said, adding "we need
to go back to 17 percent" of development aid earmarked for
Only such a dramatic increase will prevent acute food shortages in
the future, he warned.