$6 billion in new funding for global food crisis, says UN aid chief

John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs speaks to reporters

6 June 2008 – The top United Nations relief official said today that $6 billion in new funding to tackle the global food crisis has been pledged following the food security summit that concluded yesterday in Rome.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs ohn Holmes announced the new funding as he briefed reporters in New York on a comprehensive plan to meet the crisis.

“We need to focus both on the immediate needs and on the longer-term issues starting right now and the focus is on the smallholder farmers in developing countries,” he said. “These are the people who need most help and where there is the most potential for increasing agricultural productivity and production.”

Mr. Holmes, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, said the $6 billion figure was in addition to existing pledges of up to $7 billion that were also announced at the High-level Conference on World Food Security.

He stressed that the new “Comprehensive Framework for Action” was reached by consensus among the members of the international task force convened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, which brings together the heads of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and key UN agencies.

The plan focuses on a series of measures to meet immediate needs and also to build longer-term resilience to food crises in the future.

Among the immediate measures proposed in the plan are increasing nutritional and other feeding programmes, as well as supplying fertilizers, seeds, animal feed and veterinary services to help smallholder farmers in the current planting season. The plan also calls for a reduction in export bans on food commodities, and focuses on the need for much greater investment in agricultural production in the longer term.

Noting that there was broad agreement on the way forward, Mr. Holmes said the World Bank estimated that global food production had to rise by at least 50 per cent by 2030 to meet worldwide demand.

“We’re looking at this in a much broader context than just the current price levels,” he said. “Everybody’s attention has been grabbed, including ours, by the sudden dramatic increase in food prices over the last few months, but there’s a broader underlying problem about agriculture that lies behind that,” he added.

The three-day summit in Rome, which was attended by more than 40 heads of State and government, and representatives from 181 countries, adopted a declaration at its conclusion that called on increased assistance for developing countries, especially for those hardest hit by the recent rises in food prices.

Commenting on the summit declaration, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food Olivier De Schutter, said that the international community needed to address the questions of power and accountability.

“Hunger is man-made. What misguided policies have caused, better focused policies can undo,” he said.


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