Rome- based UN agency says 40 mln more hungry in 2008
(ANSA) - Rome, December 9 - The number of people suffering from hunger has increased by 40 million this year, the Rome-based United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Tuesday.
Some 963 million people are now affected, taking the 1996 World Food Summit goal to reduce hunger by half by 2015 almost out of reach, according to FAO's latest report on the state of food insecurity in the world.
''It will require an enormous and resolute global effort and concrete actions to reduce the number of hungry by 500 million by 2015,'' said FAO Assistant Director-General Hafez Ghanem.
He added that reaching the target would need an investment of 30 billion dollars annually for agriculture and social protection in poor countries.
The FAO report said higher food prices were the primary cause of the increase in people suffering from hunger, despite the fact that these have now dropped since the beginning of the year.
While prices of major cereals fell by 50% from early 2008, they remained 20% higher than in October 2006, according to the report.
''Lower prices have not ended the food crisis in many poor countries,'' Ghanem said.
''The structural problems of hunger, like the lack of access to land, credit and employment, combined with high food prices remain a dire reality,'' he added.
Ghanem warned that lower prices and the credit crunch could meanwhile force farmers to plant fewer crops this year, ''unleashing another round of dramatic food prices next year''.
Nearly two thirds of the world's hungry live in Asia (583 million), although sub-Saharan Africa has the highest proportion of undernourished people in the total population (236 million, or one in three people), according to the report.