04 April 2013
Category : Interview
Ending hunger is not a utopia
Interview: Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the FAO.
The Spanish minister García-Margallo together with the Director-General of the FAO
Can we now speak of the fulfilment of one of the MDGs, that of reducing extreme poverty by half?
Yes, there are now 45 countries that have managed to reduce extreme poverty a thousand days ahead of time, and there are others that are on course to achieve it. The great challenge is Asia. Half of the starving people in the world are in South Asia. Even so, in Asia, 300 million people have been brought out of extreme poverty through rural development and employment.The Chinese model is now being copied in other countries and that could be the solution.
It is not a utopia. We are not talking about sending a robot to Mars, we are talking about ending hunger. In Africa, there are some 50 million people dedicated to subsistence agriculture. If we can improve their situation and enable them to access local markets, we will be on the right track to end hunger in Africa.
What is the greatest mistake we have made and which we must not repeat in the future?
For over half a century, we have addressed hunger through an increase in food production. We have now realised that it is not enough to produce, we have to be consumers, and for that we have to have money and to have money you have to have a good job, etc.
How can we explain the rise in food prices in recent months?
It is an economic cycle. Since the 1970s, prices have been very low and that discouraged investment and farmers have become poor. Now, the situation is more favourable and what we have to do is open up markets such as Japan or Europe to developing countries so they can have good markets and prices.
What are the challenges for the future?
There are still 870 million hungry people in the world, so there is still a lot to do. What can we do? It is vital to improve governance on the question of food security and turn hunger and extreme poverty into a political matter, a national commitment. The decision to eradicate hunger should be taken by society, the private sector, NGOs and governments.
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