Food supply systems are failing the most vulnerable, and must be fixed through united action, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today in one of a series of recent events designed to raise awareness of global hunger.
Noting that the number of hungry people has now fallen slightly, Mr. Ban said: “That is progress … but not nearly enough. There are still nine hundred and twenty five million chronically undernourished people in our world. They are denied this basic human need … this fundamental right.”
Mr. Ban said that his High-Level Task Force on Global Food Security is championing a new approach with governments, civil society, businesses and other groups joining forces to combat hunger by addressing all facets of the problem.
“As a result, farmers’ organizations, research bodies and civil society groups are not just observers on the Committee – they are active participants. The Committee is building a strategy so that we stay united and effective in the fight against hunger,” Mr. Ban said.
General Assembly President Joseph Deiss noted that although social protection programmes are crucial to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable, the underlying causes of hunger must be tackled.
“We must attack the root causes of problem – the causes of economic, social and structural nature – by investing in agriculture and rural development,” Mr. Deiss said.
Jacques Diouf, the Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), stressed the need to reverse the declining share of official development assistance going to agriculture projects, which, he said, had gone down from 19 per cent in 1980 to 3 per cent in 2006, and is currently estimated at six per cent.
Governments of food deficient countries should also allocate at 10 per cent of their national budgets to agriculture development, Mr. Diouf added.
“FAO work has shown that the planet can feed itself provided that concrete and targeted action is taken today to address the multifaceted root causes of hunger,” he said.