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Reports Examine Cost Of Global Malnutrition, Agricultural Forecasts; World Bank Predicts More Nutrition Program Spending

According to a new report from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), “[g]lobal hunger, poor nutrition and obesity are costing the world trillions of dollars in health costs and lost productivity,” VOA News reports. According to the report, “the combined effects of all … forms of malnutrition cut the world’s income by an estimated five percent per year, or about $3.5 trillion,” the news service states. “While about 40 countries have reached the goal of reducing hunger by half, there is a long way to go to improve nutrition,” VOA writes, noting the focus on nutrition is new for FAO. “The effort needs to involve players throughout the entire food system, from farmers and food processors to consumers and government agencies, according to FAO Deputy Director-General Daniel Gustafson,” the news service writes (Baragona, 6/4).

A separate report from the FAO and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that “[a]gricultural production is expected to slow down over the next decade, due largely to limited expansion of arable land, rising production costs, environmental pressures and resource constraints,” the U.N. News Centre writes (6/6). “Rising global food demand will push up prices 10 to 40 percent over the coming decade and governments need to boost investment to increase farm production,” according to the forecast, released on Thursday, the Associated Press adds (McDonald, 6/6). However, the World Bank announced on Thursday that “its direct funds for nutrition programs should rise to $600 million for 2013-14 from $230 million in 2011-12,” Reuters reports. “The World Bank’s nutrition programs focus especially on children two years old or younger, when nutrition interventions can have the biggest impact,” the news agency notes (Yukhananov, 6/6).