New York

16 October 2006

Secretary-General's message on World Food Day

Every year, World Food Day provides a sobering reminder that in a world of plenty, millions of people go hungry each day.

A decade after world leaders pledged, at the 1996 World Food Summit, to reduce the number of chronically undernourished people by the year 2015, much remains to be done. More than 850 million people around the world suffer from chronic hunger. Millions more are plagued by blindness, growth deficiencies and other ailments related to a lack of adequate nutrition. A significant proportion of the malnourished are children. In a world which has the means to feed us all, this continued suffering is unconscionable.

The theme for this year's World Food Day, “Investing in agriculture for food security”, highlights the need for increased resources to fight hunger. The past two decades have seen a sharp decline in foreign assistance for agriculture. Many countries, including those most in need, have not allocated sufficient resources to farming and rural development.

There is a need to reverse this trend, and to channel increased public and private resources towards agricultural activities. Such investments must reach beyond infrastructure and irrigation systems to fund broader human development goals, especially the education of rural women and girls who constitute the backbone of most agrarian economies.

The world has the resources and the know-how to make hunger history. What we need in sufficient quantity is resolve. On this World Food Day, let us renew our pledge to work together towards a day when no man, woman or child goes to sleep hungry. Let us resolve to win the fight against hunger once and for all.