Radical Islamist units in Syria are sidelining more moderate groups that do not share the Islamists' goal of establishing a supreme religious leadership in the country. Special Report
Asia needs to invest more to feed population - FAO
MANILA (Reuters) - Asian countries need to increase investment in food production by 50 percent to $120 billion a year to ensure they can afford to feed their large and growing populations, a United Nations' body said on Wednesday.
With the number of hungry people in the world increasing by about 100 million to 1 billion last year, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said food production in the developing world had to double by 2050.
"A production increase of this magnitude will require the developing world alone to invest over $200 billion per year in agriculture till 2050, of which almost $120 billion would have to be invested in the Asia-Pacific region alone," Jacques Diouf, FAO director general, told a food security forum at the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Investment in agriculture in Asia Pacific was about $80 billion annually, the FAO estimated.
"Although global food prices have now stabilised as compared with 2008, they still remain 85 percent higher than their 2003 levels," said ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda.
Estimates from the FAO and OECD showed food prices from this year to 2019 would rise 15 percent to 40 percent in real terms compared to 1997-2006 levels.
"These statistics belie a crisis that will only get worse in the years to come unless immediate action is taken. Add to this rapid population growth, climate change and water shortages, and the need for action is blindingly apparent," Kuroda said.
Governments need to fund agriculture productivity-boosting measures such as improving crop management, irrigation systems, post-harvest technologies as well as strengthening rural infrastructure for private investments to follow, officials said.
"At the moment, every six seconds, one child dies from malnutrition, directly or indirectly. Fourteen thousand children die every month and we cannot accept this situation any more," FAO assistant director general Hiroyuki Konuma told a media briefing.
"Policymakers need to recognise the importance of food security."
(Editing by John Mair and Manash Goswami)
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