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Securing the world against hunger

Dec 10, 2008

FAO’s The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2008 reviews the impact of high food prices on global undernourishment. The report raises awareness about hunger issues, discusses the underlying causes and monitors progress towards hunger reduction targets.

The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2008
Publisher: FAO, 2008

The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2008 represents FAO’s ninth progress report on world hunger since the 1996 World Food Summit (WFS). In previous editions, FAO has expressed deep concern over the lack of progress in reducing the number of hungry people in the world, which has remained persistently high.

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This year’s report focuses on high food prices, which are having a serious impact on the poorest populations in the world, drastically reducing their already low purchasing power. High food prices have increased levels of food deprivation, while placing tremendous pressure on achieving internationally agreed goals on hunger by 2015.

In mid-2008, as international food prices peaked following two years of rapid increases, the international community was mobilized to avert an imminent global food-security crisis. FAO estimates that between 2003–2005 and 2007 high food prices contributed to an increase of 75 million in the number of undernourished people, bringing the total number to 923 million.

Soaring food prices and sharp increase in hunger has also thrown into reverse earlier progress towards achieving the first Millennium Development Goal 1.

Who are the primary victims of the dramatic increases in food prices? Among the poor, landless and female-headed households are the most vulnerable. On the other hand, rural households specialising in agriculture and with access to land have been able to cope better with food price increases.

The report also examines how high food prices present an opportunity to re-launch smallholder agriculture in the developing world. It sends out the following key messages:

  • Ad hoc policy measures to deal with the effects of high food prices, such as price controls and export restrictions, are likely to be ineffective and unsustainable. They also exacerbate market volatility.
  • A comprehensive twin-track approach is required to address the impact of high food prices on hunger: (i) measures to enable the agriculture sector to respond to the high prices; and (ii) targeted safety nets and social protection programmes for the most food-insecure and vulnerable.

The publication is targeted at a wide audience, including policy makers, international organisations, academic institutions and the general public with a general interest in linkages between food security, human and economic development for a world without hunger.

Source : FAO
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