U.N food agency urges Africa to invest in farming

Under-investment in agriculture has left many governments across Africa struggling to feed their people, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization director-general Jacques Diouf said on Thursday.

“In sub-Saharan Africa, since 2009, over 265 million people are malnourished and 30 percent of the population suffers from hunger,” Diouf said at the 26th session of FAO’s Regional Conference for Africa in Luanda.

“This situation clearly demands our urgent and undivided attention.”

He said only nine African countries had kept a promise made at an African Union Summit in 2003 to allocate at least 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture.

At the same time, the share of assistance from rich countries used to fund agriculture in developing nations has fallen from 19 percent in 1980 to around five percent, he added.

Nonetheless, with political will and good governance, Africa would be able to develop its agriculture and adequately feed its population, he said.

With the global economic crisis, many African governments, including Angola, have started to place agriculture and food security at the heart of their national policies in a bid to improve living standards in the world’s poorest continent.

The U.N. estimates Africa’s cereal production could reach 160 million tonnes in 2009, up from 152.3 million tonnes in the previous year.



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