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UN agencies call on G8 to take decisive measures to fight hunger
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10:34, July 09, 2008

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Three United Nations agencies on Tuesday called on G8 leaders to deal a "decisive blow" to hunger and poverty by boosting food aid and investment in agriculture.

In a joint statement issued here, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme, said one of the fundamental reasons for the current world food crisis is the dramatic decline in agricultural investment from 17 percent of the total to three percent in 2006, over the three previous decades.

"The G8 summit in Japan can help strike a decisive blow in the fight against hunger and poverty by ... moving to direct a much larger share of development aid to the rural and agricultural sector," the statement said.

"Catalyzing public and private investment, such a decision would accelerate the anti-hunger strategy contained in the important Declaration adopted by 180 countries and the European Community at the Rome Food Security Summit in June 2008," it added.

The objective of the strategy was to "restore sustainable agriculture as a key force for development and to harness the huge latent energies of the world's smallholder farmers - of the world's poor - to that end."

The UN system was "pulling together as perhaps never before" to help protect vulnerable populations from the immediate dangers of the food crisis, to meet the world's most urgent hunger needs, and to work for longer-term solutions, the statement said.

A colossal task lay ahead, "for it involves nothing less than enabling the world's poor countries to feed themselves once more -a capacity they lost in the decades of cheap food imports and following a three-fold increase in natural disasters."

"Social, economic and environmental concerns demand that the farming revolution we are embarking on not only produces much more but does so in an environmentally sustainable manner," the statement noted.

"Tomorrow's agriculture must also help adapt local farming systems to the rapidly increasing challenges and constraints of climate change and assist communities in mitigating its effects."

In order to defuse the current food crisis and promote an agricultural renaissance, the G8 must take a clear lead in helping promote a new Green Revolution through much-increased public financing to agricultural development.

"In doing so, the international community would not only take a huge step towards securing food for all today and tomorrow - but also help relegate hunger and poverty to yesterday," said the statement.


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