PR 96/46 - INVESTMENT IN AGRICULTURE ESSENTIAL


PR 96/46

INVESTMENT IN AGRICULTURE ESSENTIAL TO ACHIEVE FOOD SECURITY, SAYS FAO CHIEF

New York, October 25 -- A heavy resumption of investment in agriculture will be needed if the world is to succeed in boosting agricultural production to meet the increasing demand for food, Dr. Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said today.

We are faced with the continuing logic-defying paradox of a planet that produces enough for everyone but at the same time has over 800 million people who have no guarantee of an adequate diet, Dr. Diouf said on the occasion of the observance of World Food Day at UN Headquarters in New York. The theme of World Food Day this year is "Fighting Hunger and Malnutrition".

With the world's population increasing, he noted the problem could only get worse if nothing were done today, declaring: "We have a twofold challenge before us: to produce enough food and to ensure that each individual has access to this food, thus achieving universal food security".

The chain of technology transfer has been broken and resources have begun to run short. The share of development aid to agriculture has halved in the last fifteen years, Dr. Diouf said. "Many developing countries and the funding agencies have focused their efforts on other paths to development, rather than on agriculture.

He continued: Past and future scientific advances, the transfer of technology to farmers and the introduction of environmentally-sound farming practices will not be enough by themselves to achieve the production objectives. These measures will have to be accompanied by a heavy resumption of investment in agriculture.

Alongside the challenge of producing sufficient food, was that of securing "access for all to an adequate, healthy and balanced diet, according to the FAO Director-General. Food security for small farmers could be achieved by raising productivity. We cannot do the same for the urban poor who lack the means to buy the food they need to survive. What they require is an employment policy and appropriate food distribution programmes.

Referring to the World Food Summit which takes place at FAO's Rome Headquarters from 13 to 17 November, Dr. Diouf noted: The situation will only radically change if the Heads of State and Government declare unacceptable the fact that 800 million people are still suffering from hunger and undertake to change their economic policies in particular, by allocating sufficient resources to the rural sector. In doing so, they will be setting in train a vast campaign to secure Food for All, involving ministerial departments, farmers and their associations, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and society at large. "That", he said, "is the motivation behind the World Food Summit".

The Summit aims to secure adoption by the Heads of State and Government of a Policy Statement and a Plan of Action to achieve universal food security. The fact that over 100 world leaders have so far confirmed their attendance at the Summit, led Dr. Diouf to believe it would be a success.

The World Food Summit casts a ray of hope on this observance of the world Food Day which is dedicated to fighting hunger and malnutrition, he added.