Increased production key to resolve food crisis: UN


Manila : A UN official Friday called for more investment in agriculture to boost global food supply amid a food crisis that is triggering unrest in many countries.

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Kevin Cleaver, assistant president for programme management of the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development, blamed the current problem on the neglect of agriculture in many countries around the world.

“We’ve been predicting a problem as much as two years ago, but most of the world has been complacent,” he told reporters after a meeting with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in Manila.

“Nobody really paid much attention to agriculture and all over the world, you see degraded infrastructure, farmers who have been neglected,” he said.

“Now there is a world food crisis,” he added. “The UN is estimating that in 33 countries, there is now civil disturbance, food riots caused by food shortages and higher prices.”

Cleaver said he discussed the problem with Arroyo, whose government is struggling to stave off a looming crisis.

Prices of rice, bread and other basic commodities have been increasing in the Philippines amid tight supply. The government has begun to ration cheap rice to impoverished families, limiting the number of kilos they can buy in a day.

Cleaver urged governments to invest or promote investments in agriculture, such as providing rural finance and building farm-to-market infrastructure, to ensure more food supply in the long-term.

In the Philippines, Cleaver said the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development would finance a $66-million agriculture and rural development programme in two poor regions.

He expressed confidence that the Philippine government was on the right track in dealing with the problem and that no food riots would break out in the country.