The number of people in hunger in the world has topped one billion for the first time and global food production is failng to meet demand. That is the grim message of a UN food summit starting in Rome today.
It aims to win broad support for investment in agriculture to help poor countries feed themselves. Developing nations are expected to remind G8 countries of their pledge to spend billions to help subsistance farmers increase their productivity. The world hunger problem has been exacerbated by the global financial crisis and a surge in food prices in 2007 and 2008. The UN’s food agency says that has pushed the number of people living in hunger above 1 billion for the first time. It warns that if current trends continue agriculture production will have to rise by 70 percent to feed the projected world population of nine billion in 2050. It is calling for an additional 30 billion euros to be spent on agriculture in developing countries annually. But some delegates feel those countries could do more to help themselves. Kanayo Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agriculture Development said: “I think it is totally mistaken for us to expect that it is only through financial assistance from the developed world that the developing world is going to grow its own food and feed its own population.” The plight of the world’s hungry was highlighted in a protest at Rome’s Colosseum on the eve of the summit. Aid groups fear the conference will make little headway in tackling the problem.