UN prods rich countries to boost African farming
Food summit tackles soaring costs
ROME — A UN summit on the global food crisis asked rich nations yesterday to help revolutionize farming in Africa and the developing world to produce more food for nearly one billion people facing hunger.
“The global food crisis is a wake-up call for Africa to launch itself into a green revolution, which has been overdelayed,” Nigerian Agriculture Minister Sayyadi Abba Ruma said on the second day of the three-day summit.
“Every second, a child dies of hunger,” he told Reuters. “The time to act is now. Enough rhetoric and more action.”
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization called the summit after soaring commodity prices threatened to add 100 million more people to the 850 million already going hungry and caused food riots that threaten government stability in some countries.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the summit, attended by 151 countries, had shown “a clear sense of resolve, shared responsibility and political commitment among member states.”
But discord over how much biofuels contribute to the rise in food prices threatened to deprive the summit of a forceful final declaration.
“I doubt there will be a positive agreement on biofuels,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer.
The United States, a leader in maize-based ethanol, and Brazil, the world’s largest producer of ethanol from sugar cane, say it is important to diversify energy sources at a time when oil prices are skyhigh and there is pressure for cleaner fuels.