Friday, May 8, 2009

UN food organisation says number of people who go hungry will increase to 1-billion

THE number of hungry people in the world could soon hit a record 1-billion, despite a drop in food prices, the United Nations food aid organisation said.

The recent financial crisis, though it has helped bring global food prices down, also has led to falling trade and lower development aid, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO’s) general director, Jacques Diouf.

As a result of the crisis, an additional 104-million people were likely to go hungry this year — meaning they would receive fewer than 1800 calories a day, Diouf said on Wednesday after a two-day meeting in Paris between the FAO and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

“We have never seen so many hungry people in the world,” he said.

The number of people considered hungry increased last year as well, by 40-million, and in 2007, when 75-million more people joined the ranks, Diouf said.

If the projection for this year proves accurate, that would mean that about 1-billion people — or roughly one-sixth of the world’s population — would go hungry by the end of the year, he said.

“Food security is a matter of peace and security in the world,” Diouf said, stressing that the production of food would have to double by 2050 just to keep pace with population growth.

Despite a 30% drop in food prices from June last year, overall food prices still remained above 2006 levels, Diouf said. In the developing world, however, food prices had dropped only 12%-14% since June last year, he said .

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