The world has to act against hunger, which affects 13 per cent of the population, if it wants to strengthen global security, a candidate to run the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said April 27.
Franz Fischler, an Austrian who is former EU agriculture commissioner, said during an interview the whipsaw effect of volatile food prices complicates the effort to expand local production and improve the welfare of subsistence farmers. Prices spiked in mid-2008, plunged in 2009 and hit a record high early this year.
World leaders set a goal in 2000 of halving the portion of the world population that suffers from hunger, reducing it to seven per cent. Some 13 per cent are now undernourished, based on latest FAO figures, compared to roughly 14 per cent when the goal was set.
“Food security is becoming more and more of an issue of national security,” said Fischler, pointing to unrest in food-short countries and its impact on neighbours.
FAO, with 3,600 workers, is one of three UN anti hunger agencies. It specializes in longer-term food projects and collects data on agriculture, nutrition, commodities and sustainable development.
FAO’s 187 member nations will elect a new director general during a meeting in late June in Rome for a term lasting 3-1/2 years from January 2012.