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Maronite Patriarch: hunger has no political or social colouring

Says Maronite Church is ready to contribute to hunger-free world

18 October 2012, Rome. Hunger has no political or social colouring and development needs to reach all people, said the Maronite Patriarch, His Beatitude Mar Bechara Boutros Rai, in a meeting today with FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva in Rome.

The Maronite Patriarch was answering a call made by Graziano da Silva to join the Zero Hunger Challenge, launched by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Rio+20 Conference in June.

Bechara Boutros Rai highlighted the importance of working with small-scale producers and helping them to organize themselves in cooperatives so they can better access markets, referring to the speech made by Graziano da Silva on World Food Day.

The FAO Director-General added:  “Ending hunger is a moral issue. We already produce enough food in the world and need to mobilize political support to realize the hunger-free future we want.”

Conflict and hunger

The Maronite Patriarch and Graziano da Silva also discussed the new hunger figures.

The FAO Director-General pointed out that although there had been a fall in the global number of undernourished people, hunger was on the rise in Africa and the Near East.

“Food security is a condition for peace,” he said.

The Maronite Patriarch agreed, adding that conflicts affect social and development work that is done and expressing his concern about how hunger and conflict pushed families to migrate internally and externally.

According to him, agricultural and rural development projects would help rural families to be able to continue living in rural areas.

The Maronite Patriarch was accompanied in the meeting by high ranking officials of the Maronite Church and the Director-General of the Ministry of Agriculture of Lebanon, Louis Lahoud.

They also discussed ways to increase FAO’s support to Lebanon. Strengthening cooperatives, supporting small-scale farmers by improving their insertion in the food value chain, including with better storage facilities, were among the ideas discussed.