At the UN hunger summit in Rome wealthy food-importing nations are being accused of grabbing land from small farmers in developing countries and ignoring the plight of starving people.
Several non-governmental organisations are complaining that the Food and Agriculture Organisation is supporting rich nations and multi-national companies seeking to buy up large swathes of farmland in poor countries. Robert Mugabe blamed what he called “inhumane” sanctions” by Western powers for causing starvation in Zimbabwe and Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi demanded an end to what he called the “new feudalism” which, he said, “cheats African people out of their rights”. Even the head of the UN food agency, Jacques Diouf, said he is not satisfied with the final declaration of the summit – which vowed to take “urgent action” to boost food security – but failed to include any targets to reduce hunger. The FAO is planning to draw up guidelines to try and safeguard the sometimes conflicting interests of local farmers and foreign investors.