The chief of the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says
the trillions of dollars spent rescuing the international financial
sector is "disproportionate" to a call for increased agricultural
investment in developing countries.
UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi is
calling for more investment and development assistance into the
developing world's agricultural sectors to end the "permanent food
crisis" that has evolved over recent decades for many regions.
at a conference on the global tapioca industry, Supachai, said a sharp
fall in official development assistance (ODA) into the agricultural
sector and greater dependency on global food markets had resulted in
many countries, especially in Africa, becoming major food importers.
an interview with VOA, Supachai said industrial nations needed to
review their assistance programs that have seen a shift towards
education and health over recent years, and a focus he believes, is too
narrow to ensure development.
"This must be redressed,
rebalanced. I quoted an 85 percent reduction in the past 20 years," he
said. "We have come to the understanding that in order to meet the
social targets you need to do more economic productive capacity
investment. You cannot meet social targets by putting money only in
health and education".
Supachai said spending on the financial
sector rescue packages in the United States and Europe appeared to be
"disproportionate" to the needs for development in the agricultural
sector in several emerging countries.
and to think what we need in agricultural development, which is so
badly needed, it is only in terms of hundreds of millions and here we
are talking about rescuing financial institutions in terms of trillions
of money," he said. "I think the world has gone astray."
$4 trillion is being injected into the U.S. and European financial
systems. Supachai said while this is necessary for global economic
recovery, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is pressing for more
development funds into agricultural development rather than merely in
Supachai also said a comprehensive strategy is
necessary to be applied to improve agricultural yields, raise
productivity, as well as improve areas of human development.
global challenge was that of the world's population of six billion,
just two billion people have a "reasonable" life-style, but many of the
remaining four billion live on less than $2 a day.
said as a result the pressure on commodities and food production would
be "tremendous" over the long term and a recent decline in commodity
food prices was likely to be only temporary.
Further efforts to deal with the issue of food security will be raised at a meeting later this month in Spain.