FAO welcomes G8 declaration and urges donor countries to increase aid to agriculture
Investment in agriculture and rural areas crucial to reduce the number of hungry people
12 June 2004, Rome -- The head of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Dr Jacques Diouf, yesterday welcomed the G8 declaration on ending the cycle of famine in the Horn of Africa, raising agricultural productivity and promoting rural development.
Noting with regret the downward trend in development aid from donor countries to agriculture in many developing nations, Dr Diouf hailed the declaration as an important step in the fight against hunger and poverty should the G8 countries elect to match action with the words.
"It is very encouraging that the leaders of the most industrialized countries have renewed their commitment to achieve the goal of halving by 2015 the number of people who suffer from hunger and poverty," Dr Diouf said.
"Especially promising is the focus on Africa, where more than 200 million people remain chronically food insecure. I am confident that, if the new G8 commitment is translated into immediate concrete action, the number of hungry people could still be reduced by half by 2015, thereby meeting the World Food Summit target and the Millennium Development Goal," he added.
"FAO, together with its partners, will continue to work closely with the G8 countries, other donors and recipient countries to promote agricultural development and offer its expertise and assistance."
Investment the main priority
Investing in agriculture and rural areas, particularly in water control and rural infrastructure, in food insecure countries should be the main priority in the fight against hunger, the FAO Director-General stressed.
"More than 70 percent of the hungry people live in rural areas - it is there where hunger needs to be defeated, by producing food for own consumption and surplus for export, as well as creating employment and income opportunities," he said.
"At the G8 Summit in Genoa in 2001, the leading industrialized countries emphasized that support to agriculture is a crucial instrument of official development assistance," Dr Diouf said.
"Unfortunately, three years on, agriculture in many developing countries is still not receiving the attention and support it urgently needs. In fact, official bilateral development assistance to agriculture from OECD donor countries fell from $4.1 billion in 2001 to $3.8 billion in 2002."
"If the G8 countries are serious in their endeavour to reduce hunger, they need to increase their resources flowing to rural areas in poor countries. The billions of dollars we invest today in farmers, in technology and in infrastructure in rural areas, we can save tomorrow on food and emergency aid," Dr Diouf said.
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