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African Leaders Left Disappointed at End of UN Food Summit


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A three-day United Nations food summit ended in Rome Wednesday without securing substantial new funds to combat world hunger. Speaking to VOA, African ministers said world leaders are not doing enough to reduce soaring hunger levels on the continent.

Participants renewed a pledge made at an FAO summit over a decade ago, to cut the number of hungry people in half by 2015. And Jacques Diouf, chief of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said commitments had been made to provide more aid and that this marked an important step. But Diouf added it was unfortunate that specific amounts of money had not been pledged.

Kenyan Minister Adam Barre Duale attended the conference in Rome and said he was disappointed by the outcome of the summit.

The only government leader from the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations who attended was Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Barre says this shows world leaders are not focused on the plight of the world's hungry.

"That points to the lack of global initiative, global unity in the fight against hunger in the world," he said. "We need both the developed world and the developing countries to come together and to give and support a global initiative in the war against hunger."

Barre says developing countries need to do more to support farmers in Africa.

"Developing nations and U.N. agencies must also be very proactive in increasing funding directly to the third-world country's farmers," he said. "Farmers in third world countries must be given quality seed, they must be given quality fertilizers, access to credit must be enhanced."

The FAO estimates that over $40 billion needs to be invested in agriculture annually to combat hunger. That would equal 17 percent of all official development aid instead of the current 5 percent.

Barre says African governments also need to do more to enhance their agricultural sectors.

"I think most governments in developing world and mainly I speak for the African governments, they must be pro-active in giving the agricultural sector more allocation, more allocation in terms of budgetary allocation. And support to the African farmers will be the starting point," he said.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned summit participants that world hunger kills 17,000 children each day.

The Rome-based agency announced earlier this year that hunger now affects a record 1.02 billion, or one in six people, with the financial meltdown, high food prices, drought and war blamed.

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