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Press Release 01/46

PRIOR TO HIS MEETING WITH THE G8
DIOUF: "WILL THE WORLD CONTINUE TO WATCH THE HUNGRY PEOPLE DIE SILENTLY?"



Rome, 19 July 2001.- "Will the world continue to watch the hungry people of the world die silently?" said Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in a news conference prior to his meeting with the G8 in Genoa.

Dr. Diouf called on all concerned, particularly the G8 countries, to contribute to a Trust Fund for Food Security with an initial amount of US$ 500 million to support agriculture in developing countries. "This amount is necessary to accelerate the process towards the goal set by the 1996 World Food Summit --cutting by half the number of hungry by 2015," he said.

"My hope is that G-8 countries will support the Trust Fund recently established. Contributions are voluntary and the Fund is also open to developing countries willing to join in this collective effort. We expect contributions from the private sector, from NGOs, from individuals as well. US$ 500 million is not a large amount." He observed that the total lending to agriculture and rural development by the World Bank and Regional Financial Institutions amounted to US$3.5 billion in 1999 while OECD countries spent around US$ 361 billion over the same period on supporting their farmers.

He added: "The poor and the developing countries are tired of declarations that are not followed by action. Resources from donors and major financial institutions have been dwindling over the last five years. How can we achieve the World Food Summit goal with fewer resources? The World Food Summit; five years later, scheduled for 5-9 November this year in Rome will raise political concern on the issue of hunger at the highest level and will help to refocus priority on fighting hunger."

"I am happy that the G8, for the first time, will discuss food security in Genoa. There is a need to reallocate priority to hunger in the fight against poverty because 70 per cent of poor people live in rural areas," the head of the UN food agency said.

Dr. Diouf pointed out that "the meeting of 53 African Heads of States last week in Lusaka sent a message to the G8 leaders asking them to participate personally in the World Food Summit: five years later and also appealing to them to contribute generously to the Trust Fund to support agriculture in developing countries."

The FAO Director-General indicated that more resources and mechanisms, including the Trust Fund, are needed "to help poor countries help themselves" by producing their own food. More investment in agriculture is needed. With increased resources, FAO will assist governments in creating a policy environment favourable to increased investment in agriculture."

Finally Dr. Diouf said that the current awareness of the risks of globalization are positive because they focus the attention of the world on the needs of the hungry."

***

For further information please contact Media Relations Officer John Riddle (tel.: 0039.06.57053259).

Related links

FAO sets up trust fund for food security
World Food Summit: five years later

Audio clip

In a Press Conference at FAO HQs, on 19 July 2001, before heading to Genoa for the G8 Summit, Director-General of FAO, Mr. Jacques Diouf said he will be at the side of the 824 million silent hungry and make sure their voices are heard.

Duration: 1min26sec

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