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China Leading the Way in Reducing Hunger, Says FAO

The U.N. food agency said the most progress to eliminate hunger in the world has been accomplished in Asia. The Food and Agriculture Organization said China is leading the way.

In its new report on food insecurity, the FAO said China reduced the number of hungry people by 74 million during the 1990s.

Charles Riemenschneider from the FAO said progress in agricultural technology and the reduction of poverty have been the key factors in winning the fight against hunger. "The improvements in using the technology of the green revolution, and some of the improved [seed] varieties and water control and a number of different things and overall the impact on rural development on reducing poverty in the country," he said. Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand have all achieved reductions of more than three million hungry people through similar programs.

One bleak spot in Asia has been North Korea. The FAO says over seven million people are undernourished in the reclusive country today, compared to three million twenty years ago.

Mr. Riemenschneider says the focus of the donor community has shifted from North Korea to southern Africa and Afghanistan in recent years. "I think it's a question of donor fatigue or whatever that makes it much more difficult as you have these prolonged crises. In FAO's case I think we're working there to improve their agricultural productivity through improved varieties and fertilizers and the like and some small projects that we have in the country," he said.

North Korea has heavily relied on food aid since famine and natural disasters in 1995 caused the collapse of the state-planned economy.