Number of hungry people declines, says UN
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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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