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Less Aid To Poor Nations Will Worsen Food Crisis

Less Aid To Poor Nations Amid Financial Crunch Will Worsen Food Crisis, Warns UN

New York, Oct 15 2008 10:10AM

The head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has urged governments not to reduce aid to developing countries or introduce protectionist trade measures amid the current global financial crisis, warning that doing so might bring about another food crisis next year.

“The great uncertainty now enveloping international markets and the threat of global recession may tempt countries towards protectionism and towards reassessing their commitments to international development aid,” noted FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf.

“It would be unfortunate if this were to be the case and the recently mobilized political will towards enhanced international support for developing country agriculture were to evaporate,” he added, in a statement marking the 34th session of FAO’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

Mr. Diouf warned that such measures could increase the risk of another food crisis next year, despite the record 2008 cereal harvest which is now expected.

According to the latest issue of FAO’s Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, this year’s production is forecasted to increase 4.9 per cent to a record 2.2 million tonnes.

At the same time, some 36 countries worldwide are still in need of external aid as a result of crop failures, conflict or insecurity, or continuing local high prices, added the report.

The Director-General noted that the financial crisis could have serious implications for the poor in developing countries, following as it does on the heels of the global food crisis which plunged an additional 75 million people into hunger and poverty in 2007.

“Last year it was the pan,” said Mr. Diouf. “Next year could be the fire.”

Recalling the pledge made by world leaders at the Food Security Summit in June to take steps to tackle the food crisis and its impact on the world’s poor, he urged continued support for the agriculture sector in developing countries.

“The global financial crisis should not make us forget the food crisis. Agriculture needs urgent and sustained attention too to make hunger and rural poverty part of history,” he stated.

ENDS

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