- Title: ITALY/FILE: United Nations says food crisis changes plans to beat poverty
- Date: 27th May 2008
- Summary: (BN10) ROME, ITALY (MAY 27, 2008) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) LENNART BAGE, PRESIDENT OF INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT (IFAD), SAYING: "We have taken cheap affordable food on the international market for granted. We no longer can do that and we need to realise it is a profound structural problem. It's not because of biofuel even though that adds to it, it's not because of climate change even though that adds to it, it's not because of some other immediate factors that adds to it but it is because of an underlying structural phenomenon."
- Embargoed: 11th June 2008 13:00
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA9ZC5RTG3II9XWPH9208Z750AJ
- Story Text: The head of the United Nation's International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said on Tuesday (May 27) the international community must recognise that poverty challenges have changed and agree to reverse years of neglecting poor farmers.
An international food summit is due to be held in Rome next week.
Initially called to address the effects of climate change on food security, vast food price hikes that continued well into this year have shifted the focus of the summit to what U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called a "global crisis".
Although not a donors' conference, world leaders are due to agree a statement on how to address food shortages and a task-force set up by Ban will issue an action plan.
The head of IFAD, Lennart Bage, said a period of global abundance, which ran for 25 years from the early 1980s, had made some countries complacent.
"We have taken cheap affordable food on the international market for granted. We no longer can do that and we need to realise it is a profound structural problem," Bage said at IFAD's headquarters in Rome.
"It's not because of biofuel even though that adds to it, it's not because of climate change even though that adds to it, it's not because of some other immediate factors that adds to it but it is because of an underlying structural phenomenon," he added.
A range of factors have contributed to the recent price surges, including poor harvests in some exporting countries, record low stocks and the effect of the oil price driving up costs.
But fundamental challenges of a growing population and rising demand for a richer diet in places like India and China will not go away, Bage said.
"Never in any period in human history have so many people moved out of poverty as in the last 20 years. That's a good thing but we need to see to it that it's sustainable and workable in the face of climate change and in an ecological and in an environmentally sustainable way. For that we need to re-engage in the very basis of human existence -- namely food," he said.
IFAD, which runs projects aimed at giving long-term help to small farmers, is involved in countries worst affected by the food crisis.
Bage said success stories like Vietnam, which has helped small farmers to the extent that it is now a significant exporter of some commodities, showed aiding farmers could work.
Such projects meant the world would be able to feed a population expected to grow by 50 percent by 2050 to 9 billion.
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