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UN food agencies urge more funds to end hunger

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MUMBAI, March 19

THE International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) cannot spur broad-based economic development unless it leads to increased funding to fight world hunger and rural poverty, three UN food and agricultural agencies said.

In a joint report, the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Programme (WFP) said, "Without increased, targeted funding to fight world poverty and hunger, the most basic of obstacles to human and economic potential will remain.''

The joint report outlines a twin track strategy for achieving substantial reductions in hunger and poverty. The strategy includes promoting agricultural and rural development mainly through productivity increases, especially among smallholder farmers, to achieve broad-based economic growth, increased food availability and sustained poverty reduction, and improving food consumption to raise the productivity and productive potential of those who are weakened by hunger, and allow them to take advantage of the opportunities offered by development.

"Widespread hunger and malnutrition in a world of plentiful food implies that extreme poverty is the root cause of under-nourishment. At the same time, hunger and malnutrition are major causes of poverty,'' the report said.

Of the 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty on less than $1 a day, 75 per cent live in rural areas and make their livings primarily through agriculture. However, over the last 15 years, aid to agriculture and rural development has declined by nearly half.

According to the UN agencies, between 1975 and 1999, countries that managed to reduce the prevalence of hunger invested substantially more in agriculture than those where under-nourishment remains widespread.

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