UN Chief Says Billions Needed to Halt Food Crisis


By Margaret Besheer
United Nations
18 July 2008

The U.N. Secretary-General says between $25 billion and $40 billion is needed each year to boost agricultural production and assist farmers worldwide, in order to curb the growing global food crisis. From United Nation's headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon warned that the combination of rising food and fuel prices threatens to undermine much of the progress made toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals of cutting poverty, hunger and disease in half by 2015.

Mr. Ban told a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly on the global food and energy crisis, that the international community must take steps to ensure that vulnerable populations are not left without help.

"I urge Members of this Assembly to immediately and substantially scale-up public spending to respond effectively to the pressing needs of the world's hungry people," he said.

He warned that between $25 billion and $40 billion would be needed annually to help farmers and enhance food production around the world. He called on governments, donors, the private sector, civil society and U.N. agencies to work together to meet these costs.

Mr. Ban said the cost of inaction would be "unacceptably high," warning that over 100 million more people could slide into hunger. He cited other consequences including political instability in the most affected countries, increased migration, higher global inflation and economic stagnation.

"If we do not seek lasting solutions now, more children will die each day, more families will go to bed hungry," said Mr. Ban. "The threats left to the next generation will be even greater."

The U.N. chief said addressing the global food and fuel crisis requires quick action and a long term commitment.