ROME, 12 June 2002 -- "The
world has the means and the know-how to end hunger and poverty
but it has lacked the ability to move from words to
action," according to Professor Jeffrey Sachs,
addressing the World Food Summit: five years later.
"There is absolutely no excuse for a further
lack of progress in the fight against hunger and
poverty," said Mr Sachs, who was recently named
Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New
York City and serves as a special adviser to the UN
Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals.
For its just-launched Anti-Hunger
Programme, FAO has calculated that US$24 billion is needed
annually in public investment in agriculture and rural
development in poor countries to reduce by half the number of
hungry people - currently 800 million -- no later than 2015. To
finance this, Mr Sachs said, "we in the rich countries
need to put aside 5 cents out of every 100 dollars. This
investment could serve to save millions of people from
starvation and death.
"We went to
the first World Food Summit in 1996 and decided to cut hunger by
half by 2015. It is shocking to note that the official
development assistance for agriculture in the 1990s fell
sharply. This is a mistake," Mr Sachs added.
"If the rich countries provide
important investment to agriculture and rural areas in poor
countries, the poor will live, they will grow out of poverty and
have a better future," he said. "So far, the
rich countries have not really made the commitment to resolve
the world hunger problem."
Sachs said that FAO's Anti-Hunger Programme "is
realistic, it shows that we can act and it lists what is needed
to fight hunger. We need to increase productivity in subsistence
agriculture, help farmers to use technology and improve
infrastructure in rural areas. We need nutrition programmes,
school meals and emergency aid for the people affected by
disasters. We need better seeds that are resistant to drought
and salinity, and we will need advanced biotechnology."
Mr Sachs warned that it costs money to
increase productivity in agriculture, health and education and
to reach the UN Millennium development goals. "Without
added assistance from the rich countries, we will not make any
progress. We also require leadership from poor and rich
countries, from industry, non-governmental organizations and
The FAO Anti-Hunger
Programme calls for a twin-track approach to fighting hunger,
combining agricultural and rural development with targeted
programmes to enhance access to food by the neediest people.
Countries that have followed this approach are seeing the
benefits, FAO said.
FAO estimated the
economic benefits of reducing the number of hungry people to be
at least US$120 billion per year.
costs of the FAO programme would be equally shared by the
international donor community and developing countries. This
would result in a 20 percent increase in developing
countries' budgets for agriculture and rural development
and a doubling of ODA and non-concessional lending.