F.A.O. focuses on wiping out hunger

by Bryan Salvage
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ROME — International governments have been invited by Jacques Diouf, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (F.A.O.) director-general, to participate in negotiations to agree on a declaration for adoption by the World Summit of Heads of State and Government on Food Security taking place Nov.16-18 in Rome.

F.A.O. earlier called for the summit to reverse the downward trend of investments in agriculture and return to the 1980 level of 17% of Official Development Assistance with a view to eradicating hunger, which now affects one billion persons, and to double food production for a world population set to reach 9.2 billion in 2050. Heads of state and government of members of F.A.O. and the U.N. are expected to attend the Summit.

Dr. Diouf mailed a document to Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Development Cooperation and Agriculture of members of F.A.O. and the United Nations to initiate the negotiation process. Titled "Secretariat contribution to defining the objectives and possible decisions of the World Summit on Food Security", the text calls for complete eradication of hunger throughout the world by 2025 and for secure, sufficient, safe and nutritious food supplies for a growing world population.

The document also addresses public and private investment for increasing agricultural production in developing countries, emergency food assistance, early reaction to food crises, trade and support to farmers, market instability, institutional and capacity building, food quality and safety, transboundary pests and diseases of plants and animals and agriculture mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

The document follows up on the recent G8 statement on food security, which was adopted in L'Aquila, Italy several weeks ago. G8 leaders called for decisive action to free the Earth from hunger and poverty by promoting sustainable production, increasing agriculture productivity, with an emphasis on private-sector growth and smallholders, and committed themselves to mobilize $20 billion over three years.

Saudi Arabia is meeting the costs of the upcoming Summit, estimated at $2.5 million.

"I am very grateful to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah, for his generous offer to fund this important meeting," Mr. Diouf said. Saudi Arabia’s offer was made during Mr. Diouf's recent visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia July 17-20.

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