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Press Release 98/68

FAO REPORT SAYS PROGRESS INSUFFICIENT TO MEET WORLD FOOD SUMMIT TARGET OF HALVING UNDERNUTRITION BY 2015; "MAJOR EFFORTS" NEEDED TO REACH ESTABLISHED GOAL


Rome, November 22 -- Two years after the World Food Summit, a paper by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) finds that, on the basis of recent data, the pace of progress remains insufficient to meet the Summit's main target of halving the number of the hungry by the year 2015 from its level of over 800 million, the Organization reported today.

In a document prepared for an Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Rome from November 29 to December 2, FAO said: "The world food security situation seems, by and large, to be developing along the lines of slow and uneven progress. . . In practice, as far as can be determined so soon after the World Food Summit (WFS), progress is not being made at anywhere near the rates required for meeting the WFS target. Unless major efforts are made to improve food supplies as well as to overcome inequities, some countries may still have an incidence of undernutrition ranging from 15 to 30 percent of their populations."

The FAO paper was issued as the Organization begins on Monday the six-day meeting of its 49-nation Council, the interim governing. FAO's annual State of the Food and Agriculture report on the world food situation will be issued during the its Council session.

FAO's paper issued today stands as the background document as some 250 parliamentarians from some 70 countries meet in Rome to discuss "Attaining The World Food Summit's Objectives Through a Sustainable Development Strategy." The Conference is being organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union with the collaboration of FAO and the Italian Parliament. It has financial support from the Italian Foreign Ministry.

"Present trends point to a further reduction, but not a halving, of the number of chronically undernourished" by 2015, the FAO document states. "Globally, the additional amounts of food to be produced and traded would be minor. The objective is also feasible at the national level in many countries provided that those countries experiencing widespread undernutrition accord high priority to their agricultural development and engage in a much more rigorous policy to effort enhance the access of the poor to income earning opportunities. It is also estimated that investment in agriculture should be 20 to 30 percent above what it would otherwise be."

The world has the capacity to produce the additional food required to eliminate undernutrition, according to the FAO paper, and the "persistence of hunger is due to development failures" indicating the need to promote local food production and rural development as well as efficient use of existing technologies for sustainable intensification of production.

The World Food Summit, convened by FAO from 13-17 November in 1996 in Rome, was the first global gathering at the Head-of-State and Government level to address hunger and malnutrition in order to achieve sustainable food security for all.

A total of 186 delegations, 112 led by Heads or Deputy Heads of State or Government, unanimously adopted the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action. Participants pledged their "political will and (their) common and national commitment to achieving food security for all and to an ongoing effort to eradicate hunger in all countries, with the immediate view to reducing the number of undernourished people to half their present level no later than 2015."

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For further information please contact the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Homepage:   http://www.ipu.org or the FAO Homepage http://www.fao.org


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