UN Secretary General in Rome - Food Crisis Conference.
You all know about the severity and scale of the global food crisis. Before this emergency, more than 854 million people in the world were short of food. The World Bank estimates that this figure could rise by a further 100 million. The poorest of the poor already spend two thirds or more of their income on food. They will be hardest hit.
I have seen this for myself. In Liberia recently, I met people who normally would buy rice by the bag. Today, they buy it by the cup. In Côte d’Ivoire, the leaders of a country recovering from conflict and trying to build a democracy told me how they feared that food riots could undo all their hard work. We fear the same in other countries that, with United Nations help, have made gains in recent years: Afghanistan, Haiti and Liberia, to name but a few. And let us not forget the millions who suffer in silence and will go hungry unnoticed
Food production needs to rise by 50 per cent by the year 2030 to meet the rising demand.
The FAO has called for $1.7 billion in new funding to provide low-income countries with seeds and other agricultural support and has initiated a programme to counter soaring food prices.
The World Food Programme has raised the additional $755 million it needs to meet existing commitments this year. We owe a great debt of thanks to 31 generous donor-nations, most notably the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It will, of course, need significant extra resources to respond to new needs arising from the impact of the food crisis.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development is giving an additional $200 million to poor farmers in the most affected countries and will want to do more as further resources become available.
The World Bank has established a new $1.2 billion rapid financing facility to address immediate needs and boost food production, including $200 million in grants targeted at the world’s poorest nations.
I have set aside a reserve of $100 million from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund to help fund new humanitarian needs arising from soaring food prices.
The Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, non-governmental organizations and various civil society groups have mobilized as well. They are sponsoring new feeding programmes to combat hunger and malnutrition, paying for medicine and sending children to school. Private-sector groups are engaged, too.
We will work together to scale up these efforts and to ensure that national authorities are able to coordinate their implementation.
Let me conclude by noting that the world’s population will reach 7.2 billion by 2015. (checking it for April 6th, its something like 6.67 billion) Today’s problems will only grow larger tomorrow unless we act now.