OPINION-Hunger falls but still unacceptably high-FAO chief

Tue Oct 9, 2012 8:00am GMT

(Jose Graziano da Silva is the director-general of the U.N's Food and Agriculture Organisation. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and should not be seen as representing the views of Reuters News.)

By Jose Graziano da Silva ROME, Oct 9 - Achieving the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the prevalence of hunger in the world by 2015 is still within reach, but a strong, sustained acceleration of efforts is needed. Progress made in the fight against hunger since the middle of the last decade has lost steam, and it is time to regain momentum.

The global number of chronically hungry people has declined by 130 million since 1990, falling from a little over one billion people to 868 million - 852 million of them in developing countries.

Progress was made not only in terms of overall numbers, but also in the proportion of the population who are undernourished. This has dropped globally from 18.6 percent in 1990 to the current level of 12.5 percent, and from 23.2 percent to 14.9 percent in developing countries.

That is better news than we have had in the past, but it still means that one person in every eight goes hungry. That is unacceptable, especially when we live in a world of plenty.

Particularly appalling is the situation in Africa, where the number of hungry has gone up in the last 20 years - from 175 million in 1990 to 239 million.

These figures are included in this year's The State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI) -- the world hunger report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme. In this edition, SOFI uses better data and an improved methodology, developed with the help of experts from around the world to estimate hunger.

The figures show that most of the progress in hunger reduction was made until 2006, as food price levels continued to decline. With the rise in food prices and the economic crisis that followed, there have been many fewer advances.   Continued...

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