06/20/2009, 00.00
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FAO: hunger will hit a billion people, 642 million in the Asia-Pacific region

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation forecasts that in 2009, for the first time in history, a sixth of the global population will suffer from hunger. For the FAO director, Diouf, the phenomenon is caused by the “dangerous combination of the global economic recession and the persistent high prices of basic food items in many countries”.

Rome (AsiaNews/Agencies) – An estimated 642 million people in the Asia-Pacific region suffer from hunger.  The alarm was launched by the FAO.  The UN organisation for food and agriculture confirms that for the first time in history, the number of people suffering hunger in the world will reach 1 billion in 2009, a sixth of the global population.

Jacques Diouf, FAO director general, states that “The silent hunger poses a serious risk for world peace and security”.  The UN organisation says the increase of the phenomenon on a global scale is due to the “dangerous mix of the global economic slowdown combined with stubbornly high food prices in many countries”.

The FAO director says among the “necessary measures” to fight hunger above all is an “increase in agricultural investment”.  Many of the world's poor and hungry are smallholder farmers in developing countries. Diouf states that the countries worst affected by hunger “must be given the development, economic and policy tools required to boost their agricultural production and productivity”.

The forecast published by FAO speaks of 265 million people who are suffering chronic malnutrition in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa, 53 million in Latin America and the Caribbean and 42 million in the Middle East and North Africa.  People who suffer hunger in developed countries amount to 15 million.

The number of hungry people in the world has increased in recent years: in the two year period 1995-97 there were 825; in 2000-2002 there were 857 million; in 2004-2006 there were 873 million. In 2008, FAO saw a decrease in its estimate from 963 million to 915 million, mainly due to better than expected food production levels. The forecast for 2009 in estimating that 1 billion people will go hungry marks a defeat for the International Community and the Millennium Development Goals that have as there main target the lasting eradication of world hunger in many countries throughout the world.


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