ROME, 4 June 2002 --
"Fighting hunger is not only a moral imperative, it
also brings large economic benefits," the UN Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today, proposing a new
global "Anti-Hunger Programme" on the eve of
the World Food Summit: five years
later, which will be held in Rome on 10-13
An additional public investment of
US$24 billion annually must be made in poor countries to halve
the number of hungry people by the year 2015, FAO said.
Without this investment, FAO fears that
there would still be 600 million hungry people in 2015. Hence,
the target of halving the number of hungry people from 800 to
400 million set by the World Food Summit in 1996 would not be
reached. FAO stressed that the public investment should be
accompanied by sufficient private resources.
Halving hunger is expected to yield additional
benefits worth at least US$120 billion a year, resulting from
longer and healthier lives for all those benefiting from such
improvements, according to the "Anti-Hunger
Almost one person in
seven does not have enough food to eat, FAO said. Most of the
hungry people live in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Heads of State and Government,
international agencies and nongovernmental organizations will
meet in Rome for the World Food Summit: five
years later, to take stock of progress made
towards ending hunger and to identify ways to accelerate the
More rapid progress in cutting
chronic hunger in developing countries is possible if the
political will can be mobilised. Enough is known about how to
fight hunger, the FAO report said.
"Anti-Hunger Programme" combines investment in
agriculture and rural development with measures to enhance
direct and immediate access to food for the most seriously
undernourished. It focuses mainly on small farmers and aims to
create more opportunities for rural people, representing 70
percent of the poor, to improve their livelihoods on a
In particular, the FAO
Anti-Hunger investment package includes:
Start-up a process of on-farm innovation in poor rural
communities. This would mobilise capital for raising farm
productivity through investments in seeds, fertilisers, small
irrigation pumps, school gardens and legal services to broaden
access to land. A plausible target is to benefit 60 million
households worldwide by 2015 through a start-up capital of
US$500 per family, on average. The total cost would be US$2.3
billion per year.
- Development and
conservation of natural resources. Additional investment should
be made in irrigation systems, in the conservation and use of
plant genetic resources and aquatic ecosystems. More funding is
also needed to ensure that the world's fisheries and
forests are used in a sustainable way. Estimated costs are
US$7.4 billion per year.
- Expansion of
rural infrastructure. High priority should be given to upgrading
basic infrastructure, such as rural roads, to stimulate private
sector investment. Investment is also needed to assure food
quality and safety, to prevent the spread of transboundary
livestock diseases and to develop food handling, processing,
distribution and marketing enterprises by promoting small
farmers' cooperatives and associations. The additional
public investment is estimated at $7.8 billion annually.
- Improvements in international and
national agricultural research, extension, education and
communication are estimated to cost $1.1 billion per year.
- Programmes for enhancing access to food
for the most needy, through school meals, feeding of pregnant
and nursing mothers and children under five and food-for-work
programmes. These activities would target the more than 200
million neediest people in the world. The cost would be US$5.2
billion per year, of which US$1.2 billion is needed for a school
has been a drastic decline in Official DevelopmentAssistance
(ODA) to agriculture in the 1990s, FAO said. In real terms the
decrease was over 30 percent between 1990 and 1999 in
concessional assistance to agriculture and rural development, a
trend that urgently needs to be reversed.
The UN agency proposed that additional public
investments for agriculture and rural development should, on
average, be equally shared between developed and developing
countries. The share of the countries with higher prevalence of
hunger should be lower.
This would imply a
doubling of ODA to agriculture and rural development, from
roughly US$8 billion in 1999 to US$16 billion per year.
Developing countries would have to increase their budgets for
agriculture on average by 20 percent.
said that new and innovative forms of finance should be
considered for the "Anti-Hunger Programme."
For example, some of the resources saved through trade
liberalization and reduced subsidies for agriculture in
developed countries "could be channelled in the form of
development assistance to promote agriculture and rural
development in developing countries."
In addition, FAO suggested that existing consumer
taxes on processed tropical products in a number of OECD
countries could be channelled back as development aid targeted
to the poor in those countries from which these products
"Success of the
Anti-Hunger Programme is more than a matter of simply committing
funds," FAO said. The programme would only be
successful if the necessary political, social and economic
enabling environment is created. "Sufficient private
investment will have to accompany public