World hunger rising again, reversing years of progress: FAO

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UNITED NATIONS, July 4 (APP): The number of hungry people in the world
has increased since 2015, reversing years of progress, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva has said.
“Hunger will only be defeated if countries translate their pledges into
action, especially at national and local levels,” he said at the opening of the agency’s biennial conference in Rome on Monday.
Concerted effort is required in countries affected by conflict and
climate change “which collectively house nearly 60 per cent of the world’s population suffering from hunger” he underscored.
“Peace is of course the key to ending these crises, but we cannot wait
for peace to take action it is extremely important to ensure that these people have the conditions to continue producing their own food.”
FAO has currently identified 19 countries in a “protracted crisis”
situation, often facing extreme climatic events, such as droughts and floods. It has also signalled the high risk of famine in north-east Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen with 20 million people severely affected.
These extreme conditions not only disrupt the lives of those affected,
they also force many to migrate in search of better lives, compounding the distress. The most vulnerable “especially women” are often the worst impacted.
In order to alleviate the suffering of millions, the UN agency will,
over the next two years, be focusing its efforts on the promotion of sustainable agriculture, climate change mitigation and adaptation, poverty reduction, water scarcity, migration as well as supporting conflict-affected rural livelihoods.
“To save lives, we have to save their livelihoods,” Graziano da Silva
stressed.
Also today, delivering the McDougall Memorial Lecture, Achim Steiner,
the Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), highlighted that transforming agriculture was crucial to transform the world, as envisioned in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
This, he said, is in many ways a “profound political reforms
agenda.”
“Doing so cannot be seen as a technical challenge to be addressed
within the agricultural sector, but rather as a complex undertaking that calls for integrated approaches considering economic, environmental, and social aspects,” Steiner said.
“[This] needs to recognize farmers as agents of change, operating
within a larger “agriculture economy,” that with the right incentives and enablers, can leverage agriculture to enhance livelihoods and sustainability.”
The lecture honours Frank Lidgett McDougall, an Australian economist,
who played a key role in the creation of FAO.
The FAO Conference, being held from 3 to 8 July, is the UN agency’s
highest governing body.