14 June 2002

Annan attacks agricultural policy

UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, has launched a stinging attack on the agricultural policies of the developed world which, he said, perpetuated world hunger.

Speaking at this weeks World Food Summit in Rome, Mr Annan called upon the developed countries to open their markets further and remove the barriers to food imports from developing countries. "The tariffs imposed on processed food make it impossible for processing industries in these countries to compete," he said. "Every day, more than 800m people, including 300m children, suffer the gnawing pain of hunger," he added. "As a result, as many as 24,000 people die every day."

He, therefore, urged a redoubling of efforts to end hunger. "Failure to reach this goal should fill every one of us with shame."

But, according to UN Food and Agriculture Organisations director general, Jacques Diouf, public support for third world agriculture has decreased. "From 1990 to 2000, assistance from the developed countries and the international financial institutions fell by 50% for agriculture.

"As a result, the number of undernourished has only fallen by 6m a year instead of the 22m needed to achieve the objective set in 1996. At this rate, the target will be met 45 years behind schedule."

Dr Diouf also criticised the blatant unfairness in support policies. The developed world spends over $300bn a year on agriculture, but just $8bn on helping developing countries. &#42