UN agency urges investment in agriculture to feed growing world population

With the world population expected to balloon by one-third to 9.1 billion people, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) underscored the importance of using scarce natural resources more efficiently and investing in agriculture to combat a deepening hunger and poverty crisis.The FAO is slated to organize a high-level expert forum next month in Rome to explore strategies on “How to Feed the World in 2050,” which is aimed at preparing the ground work for the World Summit on Food Security in November. “FAO is cautiously optimistic about the world’s potential to feed itself by 2050,” said the Rome-based agency’s Assistant Director-General Hafez Ghanem, spotlighting several significant challenges to achieving the goal.Global projections show that in addition to large-scale investments in agriculture, further significant outlays will be needed to improve access to food to avoid some 370 million people – 5 per cent of the global population – remaining malnourished in 40 years from now.FAO highlighted the challenge of the expanding global population, with sub-Saharan Africa expected to grow by 108 per cent, or 910 million people, by 2050.Global population growth, nearly all of which will occur in developing countries and urban areas, and rising incomes will increase the demand for cereals by almost 50 per cent to 3 billion tons and meat production by over 200 million tons to 470 million tons, according to FAO. The FAO paper also pointed to the need to increase the amount of arable land to around 120 million hectares in developing countries, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, while agricultural land in developed nations is expected to decline by 50 million hectares.Globally, there are still sufficient land resources available to feed the future population, said FAO. However, the agency cautioned that much of the potential land is suitable for growing only a few crops, not necessarily the crops with highest demand and it is concentrated in a few countries. FAO called for greater efforts to speed up progress towards reducing and finally eliminating the number of hungry and poor people around the world, urging investment in primary agriculture as a top priority since agriculture not only produces food but also generates income and supports rural livelihoods. Poverty reduction also requires investments in rural infrastructure – roads, ports, power, storage and irrigation systems – in institutions, research and extension services, land titles and rights, risk management, veterinary and food safety control systems; and non-agricultural investment including food safety nets and cash transfers to the most needy, said FAO. 23 September 2009Farmers need to increase global food production by some 70 per cent in the coming decades to feed an additional 2.3 billion people by 2050, warned a paper published by the United Nations food agency today, which calls for urgent investment in agriculture. read more

UN officials urge Israel to halt plans to transfer Palestinian Bedouins expand

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, James W. Rawley, and the Director of Operations in the West Bank for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) , Felipe Sanchez, released a joint statement that recalled a report of the UN Secretary-General from March this year, drawing a link between the proposed transfers and illegal settlement expansion and warning that the move would breach the Fourth Geneva Convention and violate human rights.“History has shown us that these transfers have not proven to be in the interests of the Bedouin communities,” said Mr. Sanchez. “This would represent a continuation of developments that commenced in 1997 when Palestine refugees were loaded on trucks and taken to the same urban site in Eizariya, after which an illegal settlement was constructed on their former land.”On 28 April, residents of Abu Nwar, in Area C of the West Bank, where Israel retains control over security, planning and building, were informed that some families would have to move to the Al Jabal area outside of East Jerusalem. Area C accounts for over 60 per cent of land in the West Bank and is home to an estimated 300,000 Palestinians. According to the joint statement, the plan to move the families comes amid a discriminatory zoning and planning regime that facilitates the development of illegal Israeli settlements at the expense of Palestinians, for whom it is almost impossible to obtain permits for construction. A total of 70 per cent of the land is off-limits to Palestinian construction, with heavy restrictions on 29 per cent and just one per cent zoned for Palestinian development by the Israeli Civil Administration.“Israeli practices in Area C, including a marked increase of demolitions and confiscations of donor-funded structures in the first quarter of 2015, have compounded an already untenable situation for Bedouin communities,” said Mr. Rawley.The Bedouins currently living in Abu Nwar are one of 46 Palestinian Bedouin communities – most of whom are refugees – who are slated for transfer to three proposed “relocation” sites, with the Israeli authorities claiming that Bedouin communities lack title over the land and that “relocation” will improve their living conditions.The communities are subject to eviction and home demolitions as the area in which they live has been allocated for the expansion of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement – the so-called “E1 Plan” – and the joint statement warns that the forced urbanization of Bedouin communities in the three relocation sites would destroy their culture and livelihoods.“There is also concern over the strategic implications of these plans,” said Mr. Rawley. “Many of the communities are located in areas slated for further Israeli settlement, including the E1 plan, which has long been viewed as an obstacle to the realization of a two-state solution.”Mr. Sanchez stressed the obligations held by Israel as occupying power to ensure the wellbeing of such communities and to respect international law.“We are fast approaching the point of irreparable damage,” he said. “I strongly urge the Israeli authorities to halt all plans and practices that will directly or indirectly lead to the forcible transfer of the Bedouin and call on the international community to support the Bedouins’ wish to remain where they are, pending their return to the Negev, and prevent this transfer from occurring.” read more