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Agricultural key to alleviating Africa's hunger

Agricultural investment key to alleviating Africa's chronic hunger - UN official

A top United Nations official today called for more investment in Africa's agricultural sector in order to boost food production and alleviate the chronic hunger that bedevils one in every three sub-Saharan Africans.

Speaking to the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) during its annual legislative conference in Washington, D.C., UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Jacques Diouf said for political rather than technical reasons, under-nourishment was more prevalent in Africa than in Asia and the Pacific, Latin America or the Caribbean.

"Only about 7 per cent of Africa's total arable land, and barely 3.7 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa, is irrigated," Mr. Diouf said, pointing to the potential in agricultural investment. "The potential for real growth and development in Africa is dependent upon successfully addressing key challenges - hunger and poverty, agriculture production and HIV/AIDS."

He said the United States Government's $15 billion for HIV/AIDS activities is greatly appreciated and very much needed by millions of people in Africa and the Caribbean.

Hunger and poverty, aggravated by HIV/AIDS, create a vicious cycle where farmers and their families fall sick, cultivate less and shift to less labour-intensive crops, he said. Agriculture productivity decreases and food insecurity and malnutrition rise.

Mr. Diouf lauded the CBC for being "a champion in fighting for the humanitarian rights of people worldwide and especially in Africa."

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