Number of hungry people declines, says UN

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 18:21

Rome: The estimated number of chronically
hungry people in the world has dipped considerably below the 1
billion mark thanks to good harvests and a drop in food prices
from the spikes that sparked rioting just a few years ago,
revealed figures released by United Nations on .

Still, the estimated total of 925 million
undernourished people, most of them in Asia and Africa, is
"unacceptably high" and well above UN goals to dramatically
reduce the number of hungry mouths on the planet, the UN Food
and Agriculture Organisation said.

Just a year ago, UN food agencies estimated that 1.02
billion people on the planet were undernourished. The lower
estimate for this year, especially in the light of population
growth, largely reflects progress China and India have made in
feeding their people, said the report.

According to the report more than 40 per cent of the
world`s undernourished live in China or India. Overall,
two-thirds of the chronically undernourished live in these two
countries or in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, the
Democratic Republic of Congo or Ethiopia.

That hundreds of millions of people are still
undernourished despite lofty goals promoted at UN-sponsored
gatherings and other international appointments "indicates a
deeper structural problem that gravely threatens the ability
to achieve internationally agreed goals on hunger reduction,"
the report concluded.

UN officials are trying to galvanise nations into
making greater progress toward a Millennium Development Goal
of halving the proportion of undernourished people in
developing countries from 20 percent in 1990-92 to 10 per cent
in 2015.

If the 2010 estimate of 925 holds, the proportion of
the hungry would have been reduced to 16 percent by this year.
Income growth in developing countries is helping chip
away at the numbers of undernourished people, the FAO report
said.

Nature has helped, too. "International and domestic
cereal prices have declined from their 2008 peaks, reflecting
two consecutive years of record yields," the report said.
"While production in 2010 is forecast to be lower, the overall
supply situation is considered as adequate."

Earlier this month, a UN human rights expert urged
governments to crack down on price speculation and boost food
production.

Deadly riots over food prices hit Mozambique recently,
but observers say the current food prices globally aren`t at
the extreme levels that would trigger the kind of violence
that rocked several poor countries in 2007-2008.

The Rome-based FAO has called a special meeting for
September 24 to discuss the situation of rising food
prices.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 18:21

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