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26.07.2005 General News

Food Security in Africa shaky - FAO

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Accra, July 26, GNA - Africa remains the only region in the world with the average per capita food production falling constantly for the past 40 years, the Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Tuesday. Mr Oloche A. Edache, FAO Assistant Director-General, said at a roundtable discussion between civil society and government on meeting the pressing challenges of food security in Ghana.

He said: "If the current trend persists, the number of undernourished persons on the Continent will increase between now and 2015, in contrast to the other developing regions."

He said one of the most pressing issues of the millennium was the continuing food difficulty facing 852 million people around the world with Sub- Saharan Africa and West Africa alone making up 203 million people and 36 million people, respectively, of the number.

Mr Edache said though Africa had huge numbers of undernourished people, the Continent was on record to have the highest labour force in agriculture.

Agriculture employed about 70 per cent of the labour force, yet most African governments devoted less than two per cent of their annual budget to agriculture, compared to the European Union, which spends 40 per cent of its budget on agriculture and employed about five per cent of its population, he said.

He said FAO's experience suggested that the target of reducing by half the number of the world's hungry by 2015 set at the World Food Summit and reaffirmed at the Millennium Development Summit were attainable, even through progress was currently lagging, if a twin track strategy which attacked the causes and consequences of extreme poverty and hunger were adopted.

This, Mr Edache noted, involved interventions aimed at improving food availability and incomes for the poor by enhancing their productivity and targeting programmes that gave the most needy families direct and immediate access to food.

Mr Edache, who is also the regional representative for Africa, said the FAO was cooperating with the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) Secretariats, World Bank, IMF and the African Development Bank to provide information for monitoring the Maputo Summit commitment, which entreated African governments to allocate 10 per cent of their national budgets to agriculture.

Touching on Ghana, Mr Edache said FAO last year collaborated with the Government to the tune of 7.5 million dollars, covering areas such as technical cooperation programmes, emergency projects, Unilateral Trust Fund and the Telefood projects.

Mr Erik Kristensen, Programme Officer for Rural Development of the Delegation of the European Commission in Ghana, said food security was at the heart of development issues and needed to be addressed at all levels from national, local, to household.

The European Commission, he said, had always channelled part of its funds through non-governmental organisation to ensure food security in Ghana.

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