The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization is calling for a renewed commitment to guarantee the right to food for the 850 million hungry people in the world. A ceremony was held at FAO headquarters in Rome to mark World Food Day 2007. Sabina Castelfranco reports from Rome.
The Right to Food is this year's theme for World Food Day, which is celebrated every year in 150 countries. During a ceremony at FAO headquarters in Rome, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization Director General Jacques Diouf said 854 million people still go to sleep on an empty stomach, despite the fact our planet produces enough food to feed its entire population.
The president of Germany, Horst Köhler, said that hunger is not an inescapable destiny, but can be eliminated by wise policies. He added that this requires that governments of developing countries make food security a priority.
The president of Tanzania, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, also addressed international delegates gathered for the ceremony.
"The scourge of hunger lingers on," Kikwete said. "There are little signs of receding. Instead hunger seems to be on the ascendancy. Estimates of this organization show that more than 850 million people in the world still live in a state of serious and permanent undernourishment. Sub-Saharan Africa alone has 206 million people. This is also almost a quarter of the continent's population."
President Kikwete said that at current trends the 2015 target of halving the number of hungry people in the world seems unlikely to be achieved unless efforts are redoubled at national and international level.
"Nearly 40,000 children die every day throughout the world due to malnutrition and related diseases," Kikwete said. "These are the people who have been denied the right to food. These are the very people who are the subject of this year's World Food Day."
President Kikwete said there is enough food being produced globally to feed everyone and ideally no one should die of hunger in the world we live in. For Africa and the developing world, he added, the ultimate solution to chronic hunger does not lie with food aid alone, but with the improvement of agriculture.
"Agriculture is central to livelihood of the people in Africa. About 70 percent of the people in sub-Saharan Africa live in the rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihood," Kikwete said. "Agriculture contributes 30 percent of the GDP and 40 percent of the export earnings of the economies of sub-Saharan Africa."
Mr. Kikwete said that if African agricultural problems are resolved, there would be no more hunger in the continent.