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AU, FAO Agree on New Measures to Fight African Hunger

A mother comforts her two-year-old son in the Senegalese village of Goudoude Diobe alafter a neighbor gave him food to appease his hunger, May 1, 2012.
The African Union and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization have agreed on new measures aimed at fighting hunger in Africa.

The chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and the director-general of the FAO, Graziano da Silva, signed two declarations Wednesday on promoting food security in Africa.

Speaking at the AU headquarters, da Silva said agriculture will be a primary focus in their strategy, as 60 percent of the world’s unused arable land is in Africa.

“We do believe that agriculture is just starting in Africa. Africa has the potential to provide food for the world, for the future," da Silva said. "And FAO is prepared to assist the countries to improve their agriculture performance.”

The FAO stressed the importance of African women as they represent 75 percent of the agriculture labor force.

Saying that 239 million Africans are undernourished, the AU’s Dlamini-Zuma said eradicating hunger will also reduce conflict on the continent.

“Without food security, there is nothing you can do if your nation is hungry," said Dlamini-Zuma. "All they will be is angry as well. If they are hungry, they will be angry.”

The former president of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, lent his expertise to the food security meetings here. During his presidency from 2003 to 2010 he developed the "Zero-Hunger" program - which lifted millions of Brazilians out of poverty.

He says that agriculture was very important for Brazil’s success. But he also warns that there will be no success if small farmers don’t get access to credit lines and technology.

Under the two new agreements, Lula Da Silva will assist the AU in mobilizing international knowledge and experience, while the FAO will provide technical assistance to the agricultural sector.