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While headway has been made in combating poverty and hunger in recent decades, these achievements are at risk of being undone as a result of conflict, population growth and climate change, FAO director general José Graziano da Silva has warned.
Speaking at a biennial Food and Agriculture Organisation conference held in Rome, da Silva said that achieving the international community’s goal of eradicating hunger and malnutrition by 2030 is possible, but requires greater investment in agriculture and sustainable rural development.
The FAO has identified 19 countries facing severe food crises including South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.
“Today more than 800 million people are still chronically undernourished … and unfortunately the number has started to grow again,” said da Silva.
He noted that the 2030 Zero Hunger challenge calls for a strong commitment to national decision making and greater self-reliance by member states.
The FAO has called for incentives for different sectors and stakeholders to work together to sharpen the focus of Zero Hunger initiatives. “For that, decision makers need solid and relevant evidence, including statistics and monitoring data,” said da Silva.
European commissioner for agriculture and rural development, Phil Hogan, who delivered the keynote address at the Zero Hunger event, noted that to fuel the growth of Africa’s economy, investments are needed.
“Neither official development aid nor remittances can provide sufficient resources,” he said. “Private investment is required – indeed it is already the biggest source of development funding.
“A further key to growth is generating increased value added for African products, coupled with better access to higher-value markets. Young African agri-entrepreneurs need quality products to sell, better production methods to grow them, and access to good markets upon which to sell them.”
Around 1,000 participants are expected to attend the 40th session of FAO’s conference which lasts until Friday. Participants will address pressing policy issues related to global food security and review and vote on the director general’s program of work and budget for 2018-2019.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2017