Food parley winds up amid cautiously upbeat data

Other News Materials 16 October 2010 15:05 (UTC +04:00)

The annual meeting of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) began winding up its one-week deliberations Saturday on a cautiously upbeat note of a decline in global hunger, DPA reported.

The UN body, ending its annual session in Rome on World Food Day, reported that an estimated 925 million people worldwide were undernourished, down from over 1 billion in 2009, dpa reported.

But it quickly cautioned that global hunger remained "unacceptably high" and was mainly concentrated in developing countries.

This year, for the first time, non-governmental organisations sat in on the deliberations as equal partners with the government delegations in the deliberations, and one such group, Oxfam, noted some progress in tackling key policy issues such as "land grabbing" in the battle against world hunger.

"Progress was made in developing joint guidelines in the large- scale purchases of land by investors and weatlhy countries," Oxfam agriculture expert Marita Wiggerthale said.

A first step had been made in that the problem of such large land acquisitions was now recognised. Now rules were urgently needed to restrict the worldwide sellout of farmland, or "otherwise hunger will increase again in the years ahead," Wiggerthale warned.

By Oxfam calculations, some 45 million hectares of agricultural land - an area roughly the size of Sweden - were bought up during the past two years in the poor countries by industrial and emerging nations. About two-thirds of such "land-grabbing" took place in Africa. dpa krl dms