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In the past, political will and resources - rather than knowledge - have been missing from the struggle against poverty and hunger. Today, there are signs of strengthened political will and increased awareness of the need for action. Hopefully, this will continue and will be further strengthened at the forthcoming High-Level Plenary Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. The Rome-based agencies welcome the calls for gender equality, innovative research and increased agricultural productivity in Africa, contained in the Draft Outcome Document for this important event. However, they also note that the document does not yet adequately recognize the very significant roles that food security, rural development and agriculture can play in reducing poverty in all its multiple and interdependent manifestations.

It is indisputable that the means and opportunity to fight hunger and poverty effectively are finally available. A failure to implement the proposals currently on the table would squander a most valuable opportunity, which may never arise again. What is needed now is action that focuses on agricultural and rural development in a way that has the greatest impact on poverty, food security and nutritional standards, coupled with social safety net programmes to ensure access to food by the neediest.

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