Thursday, November 19, 2009


The Food Summit which just concluded has been termed as a ritual without achieving any thing substantial and repeating the same platitudes expressed in the last Summit, viz halving the number of hungry people in the Planet by 50% before the year 2015. The gross disinterest evident amongst the well to do nations is reflected by the scanty attendance of the heads of these countries. The disappointment is writ all around and the African nations were left wondering about their future with global aid not readily forthcoming to the extent needed. The statistics of hunger can make any one scary about future. According to the FAO one in six denizens in the world go hungry and their absolute number has swollen to 1.02 billion as per the latest count and 17000 children are supposed to be perishing every day due to food insecurity.

Lack of global initiative and global unity in the world is the root cause of putting in place a permanent mechanism for hunger alleviation of a durable nature. It is vital that both the developed world and the developing countries come together and extent support for a global initiative in the war against hunger. Developing countries themselves need to do more to support their farmers, especially in the African continent. Richer countries and U.N. agencies have to be very proactive in increasing funding directly to the third-world country's farmers who need quality seed, efficient quality fertilizers and enhanced access to credits. According to the FAO, the estimated financial aid that is required works out to about $40 billion for investment in agriculture annually to combat hunger which is equivalent to 17 percent of all official development aid instead of the current 5 percent

What is galling is that no specific amounts have been committed during the Summit creating some doubts about the future of aid programs originating in the developed countries. While in absolute terms aid amounts are sizable, the relative proportion invested in agricultural sector needs to be increased, if increased aid flow does not materialize, sacrificing or postponing non-food investments. Late Norman Borlaug often expressed his view that what Africa needs is a Green Revolution similar to that occurred in Asia in sixties and seventies of the last millennium and this is where investments ought to be made.

One of the critical issues is the over eagerness of multinational companies, backed by rich countries to sell GM technologies to African countries which cannot be considered viable under the conditions prevailing in the continent. It is inexcusable for the First World to tie economic assistance to GM technology in the name of modernization of agricultural sector in these poor countries. The input intensive and restrictive seed generation properties associated with GM technology, combined with uncertainties about yield and crop failure make the farmers weary about the new technology. Economic assistance must come with no strings attached, if the recipients are going to be really benefited. In the interest of a peaceful world and congenial growth atmosphere, cooperation, understanding and mutual appreciation amongst all nations are prerequisites.


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