ROME, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) — Heads of the international community met in Rome on Monday to celebrate the World Food Day, and called for more investment in agriculture and moves to empower women to ensure global food security.
“Food prices – from crisis to stability” was the theme of this year’s World Food Day theme, after five consecutive years of unstable and often rising food prices, which currently stand close to record levels, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Inaugurating the ceremony, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said that more than 80 billion U.S. dollars of additional investment was required annually in agriculture and related activities to ensure food supplies for the world in 2050.
Greater investment was the key to mitigating food price fluctuations and building poor people and nations’ resilience, he said.
“The background to the devastating impact of soaring and volatile food prices on the livelihoods of the poor is 20 years of under-investment in agriculture and neglect of the sector.”
“The world has the knowledge and financial means needed to ensure food security for all, and thus a more stable world. Now is the time to make it happen,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Michelle Bachelet, former President of the Republic of Chile and current UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director, said in a keynote speech that a significant cause of food insecurity is “the poverty and discrimination faced by women and girls, including women farmers.”
“Since women are on the frontlines of food security, we need to put their needs and rights at the forefront of trade and agricultural policies and investments to move from crisis to stability,” she said.
“If the world is to meet the challenge of feeding people today and 9 billion people by 2050, we must invest in girls and women, who are key to food security… Empowering women and girls is key to progress in development, food security and improved nutrition,” she added.
In a message read to the ceremony, Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and the current Chair of the African Union, said that Africa and sub-Saharan Africa in particular is bearing the brunt of the food price crisis.
He also called for a spirit of national and international solidarity to reduce the number of people suffering hunger around the world.