UN food agency faces $750 million shortfall as it bids to feed world's hungry

18 April 2008

The recent drastic rise in food prices means the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) now needs more than $750 million to meet its commitment to feed the world's 73 million hungry people this year.

In late February, WFP announced that it required an additional $500 million, on top of its original appeal for this year of $2.9 billion, to carry out its efforts, but surging food prices have led WFP to revise that figure upwards to $756 million.

The cost of rice in Thailand, for example, swelled from $460 per ton on 3 March to $780 five weeks later.

WFP warned that prices could rice even higher. “We are not looking at a picture anymore, we are watching a movie,” the agency's Christiane Berthiaume told reporters in Geneva today. To date, $900 million has been received towards WFP's original appeal.

In a related development, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has accepted an invitation from Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), to attend a summit on the topic of food security in Rome.

He confirmed his attendance today at the start of the 30th FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, noting that the UN agency has a crucial role to play in tackling the issue.

The three-day event, which will start on 3 June at FAO Headquarters, “must take place in a rational manner, without being clouded by emotions or left or right-wing ideologies,” the President said. “We need scientific foundations so that people can discuss solutions to the crisis to offer to the world in years ahead.”

Dr. Diouf said the upcoming summit will be a “golden opportunity to adopt policies, strategies and programmes that will enable us to face the major challenges currently confronting us which, aside from the price surges, include the question of agricultural production, especially in poor countries.”


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