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Wade: poor countries treated 'like beggars'

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Latest update : 2008-06-04

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade has accused the United Nations' food agency of treating developing countries "like beggars," voicing disappointment at a food crisis summit in Rome. (Report: K.Williams)

The president of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, expressed his disappointment at the three-day food crisis summit in Rome, accusing the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization of disrespecting developing countries.
  
"We can't continue to be helped like beggars," Wade said in an address to the summit. "I have been disappointed ... Don't keep imposing institutions (and) experts on us. Africa is not what it was 20 years ago. Stop this farce." 

 

Wade's comments come as the UN urged the international community to help stop the spread of starvation by lowering trade barriers and removing export bans.


Speaking at the opening session of the summit on 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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