The regional conference of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) here will focus on ways to eradicate hunger and malnutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean, a FAO official has said
Agriculture, environment and social development ministers from 33 countries in the region will debate food security and other key topics of agriculture at the conference from Monday to Thursday, said Ricardo Rapallo on Saturday.
FAO must make enormous leaps forward as the region is facing huge challenges, including about 34 million people living in hunger and 27 million in extreme poverty, Rapallo, a food security officer of the FAO office for Latin America and the Caribbean, told Xinhua.
At the same time, obesity affects 22 percent of the regional population, with around 4 million children being overweight, he noted.
Other problems such as deforestation, soil contamination, over-exploitation of fishery resources and unsustainable agricultural practices are also severe in the region, said the official.
“We must transition to sustainable models of production and consumption, which allow us to reach our maximum potential while taking care of the resources that sustain us,” he said.
He stressed the need to give priority to investment and financing policies while creating coordinated multi-sector strategies for rural development.
Currently, the level of rural poverty is more than double that of urban poverty — 47.9 percent against 23.2 percent, while a third of the rural population in the region still faces malnutrition, he said.
“The tight link between rural poverty and food insecurity requires a new focus on socio-economic development and institutional, social as well as technological innovation transformations,” said Rapallo.
Latin America and the Caribbean was the first region in the world to meet the hunger reduction goals set by the Millennium Development Goals.
“Thanks to public policies focused on the most vulnerable segments of society, the region succeeded in more than halving its total percentage and number of undernourished people,” said Rapallo.
Statistics show that a total of 31.7 million people have been taken out of hunger in the region since 1990.
“The largest reduction took place between 2000 and 2008, during which malnourishment was reduced by around 19 million people,” said Rapallo. “The number could have been higher still, if not for the impact of the global financial crisis.”