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Ban Ki-moon calls for 'revitalisation' of agriculture

Latest update : 2008-06-03

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in his address at the three-day UN summit of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome, "We have an historic opportunity to revitalise agriculture." (Report: T.Gruzca)

Speaking at the opening session of a three-day summit on the world food crisis in Rome Tuesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the immediate objective was to produce more food to respond to the world’s increasing demand.


According to the World Bank, a 100 million extra people could be plunged into poverty because of rises in the price of staple foods.


Warning that it would take “enormous political will” to revitalize agriculture across the world, he set an objective of a 50% increase in food production by 2030.


“The longer term focus is to increase world food security,” Ban said.


Aiming to defuse the idea that biofuels are solely to blame for the rising food prices, the secretary-general called for a “greater degree of international consensus on biofuels”.


Farming crops for food and biofuels “are two parallel tracks”, he said, adding that the UN would lend financial support to countries who had already invested heavily in biofuels to help them turn some of the land back to farming.


Dismissing the idea that the liberalization of trade was the reason behind the current crisis, he warned of the dangers of “policies that might impoverish neighbouring countries”.


“Limiting food exports or controlling prices cannot work,” he said.


The focus of the long-planned conference moved away from climate change to look at solutions to the growing food crisis, which, in recent months, has sparked hunger riots in a number of countries around the world.


French President Nicolas Sarkozy and upcoming head of the European Union,  proposed the creation of an international group on world food safety which would include institutions like UN agencies, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, regional banks and the World Trade Organisation as well as states, companies and non-governmental organizations.


There is a strategy, he said, "that relies on the devlopement of local farmers. It is the only solution that is both sustainable, responsible but demanding."
 
Some 50 heads of state and government are attending the conference. They include President Robert Mugabe from Zimbabwe and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from Iran, whose presence at the summit has been sharply criticized. Groups of Italian activists planned to demonstrate on Tuesday.


“Nothing is worse than hunger,” Ban said as he concluded his statement. “Especially when it is man-made.”

Date created : 2008-06-03

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