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Food Summit Draft Declaration Omits Hunger Eradication Deadline, Aid Commitment

“A declaration to be made at next week’s world food summit in Rome will not mention a target to eradicate hunger by 2025 nor a commitment to spend $44 billion a year in agricultural aid, according to a final draft,” Reuters reports (Aloisi, 11/12).

Those items “were the main points of conflict in behind-the-scenes talks before the summit. The final draft will be approved on Monday in Rome barring a surprise amendment,” according to the Financial Times. “The final draft of the declaration, circulated to governments on Wednesday, recommits countries to meet the current target of halving the number of chronically hungry by 2015,” the newspaper writes, adding that Australia, Canada, the E.U., Japan, New Zealand and the U.S. were against announcing a timeline for the eradication of hunger. African countries, Latin America and Middle Eastern nations supported the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) idea for a timeline (Blas, 11/11).

The FAO summit “aimed to win broad support on the need to boost the percentage of official aid spent on agricultural development to 17 percent – or around $44 billion a year – from 5 percent now,” Reuters writes. “At a news conference on Wednesday, FAO Director General Jacques Diouf reiterated that aim, saying bringing agricultural aid back to the 1980 level was crucial to fight global hunger” (11/12).

Also on Wednesday, Diouf called for “a worldwide 24-hour hunger strike on the eve of the summit in a symbolic show of solidarity with the one billion people who are hungry in the world,” Agence France-Presse reports. He said he would fast on Saturday (11/11).

In an FAO press release, Diouf said, “We are suggesting that everyone in the world who wants to show solidarity with the one hungry billion people on this planet go on hunger strike next Saturday or Sunday.” He noted, “Despite all the promises made, concrete action on hunger has been lacking … In the absence of strong measures another global food crisis cannot be excluded” (11/11).

He also launched an “on-line petition to enable people to show solidarity with the world’s one billion hungry,” AFP writes (11/11).

Reuters Examines Debate Over Foreign Investment In African Farms

A second Reuters article looks closely at the situation in Ethiopia, where “[m]any small … farmers do not share their leaders’ enthusiasm for” policies that include “enticing well-heeled foreigners to invest in the nation’s underperforming agriculture sector.” The farmers view “outsiders with a suspicion that has crept across Africa as millions of hectares have been placed, with varying degrees of transparency, in foreign hands,” the news service writes.

“Both sides of the debate agree on this much: a stark reality – underlined by last year’s food price crisis – looms large over Ethiopia and beyond. The world is in danger of running out of food,” according to Reuters. The article includes information about the food production challenges and a possible African Green Revolution (Malone/Cropley, 11/12).