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UN chief calls for support of small farmers

afrol News, 13 May - The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon has said that supporting the green revolution in Africa will not just improve food security, but also drive progress towrds attaining the Millennium Development Goals.

Warning that the global food crisis is far from over, the secretary-general today urged member states to agree on a set of decisions that will revitalise agriculture, support small farmers and promote food security for all.

“The food crisis is not yet behind us. Indeed, it may have widened its scope,” Mr Ban told the opening of the high-level segment of the Commission on Sustainable Development in New York.

The two-week session of the Commission, which began last week, is expected to culminate in policy decisions in areas such as agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa.

Mr Ban said that high food prices mean 100 million people in low-income countries are at risk of joining the ranks of the malnourished. As a result, the World Food Programme (WFP) will need to increase its budget from $500 million to $750 million to maintain its operations.

He also noted that there is broad-based international support for addressing this issue, saying in particular, he was pleased with the Commission’s initiative to convene a ministerial roundtable on a sustainable green revolution for Africa.

“Investing in an African green revolution will serve not just food security but progress across all the Millennium Development Goals, including environmental sustainability,” he said, referring to the set of anti-poverty targets global leaders have pledged to try to achieve by 2015, known as the MDGs.

“To achieve a Green Revolution, African farmers, must have access to land and security of tenure. They also need access to markets, technology and improved infrastructure,” he stated, adding that this includes women farmers.

In the midst of a global recession, things can deteriorate “frighteningly fast,” the secretary-general pointed out, saying “it is but a short step from hunger to starvation, from disease to death.”

The international community, he said, must offer short-term emergency measures to meet critical needs. But it must also make longer-term investments to promote food production and agricultural development, enhance food security and maintain and accelerate momentum towards the MDGs, he said.

“The decisions taken here must help to revitalise agriculture and support the productivity and resilience of small farmers, in particular, to achieve food security for all,” Mr Ban told delegates.

The UN food agency reported last month that high food prices persist in developing countries despite an improved global cereal supply and a sharp decline in international food prices, saying this was creating further hardship for millions of poor people already suffering from hunger and undernourishment.

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