According to the latest estimates published by the FAO in Rome on Friday, June 19th, 1.02 billion people, or a sixth of the world’s population are suffering from hunger in 2009. This recent worsening of hunger in the world is not the result of poor harvests worldwide. In fact, as one journalist at the Figaro1 notes, this historic record is mainly due to the erosion of the purchasing power of the poorest people, and the significant reduction in international aid, mainly because of the current economic crisis.
And, we should not forget, as the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Mr. Kanayo F. Nwanze notes, that “most of those people suffering from hunger and poverty worldwide are small farmers from developing countries who could contribute, not only to providing for themselves, but also to strengthening food security and contribute to wider economic growth.”
However, in order to tackle the problem of the eroding purchasing power of the poorest classes, we need to attack it at the root: the destructive volatility of agricultural prices and the progressive erosion of farmers’ profits, as well as the lack of adapted mechanisms and policies. By encouraging low cost supply on international markets, to the detriment of lasting and adequate investment in agriculture, the developing countries have made their mainly farming populations, dependent on international food markets and vulnerable to surges in prices, as the last 2008-2009 campaign has shown.
This is why, as Mr. Nwanze noted, “for most developing countries, there is hardly any doubt that investing in small farms is the most lasting security net, particularly in a period of worldwide economic crisis.” It is then that the economic crisis will have less impact on huger statistics worldwide…
1 Richard Heuzé, Le Figaro, « Plus de 1 milliard de victimes de malnutrition », 18/06/2009