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Rome hosts global food summit
Aid groups fear there will few tangible results without the leaders of the G8 nations.
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2009 12:40

Libya's president, Muammar Gaddafi, is one of 60 leaders attending the three-day summit [Reuters]

World leaders and government representatives have agreed to boost agricultural aid to poor nations at the beginning of a three-day summit on hunger.

But no target or a timeframe for action has been set at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation meeting, held in Rome, the Italian capital.

A final declaration, which called for "urgent action" to eliminate hunger  around the world, made no mention of a proposal by the agency to raise farm aid to $44bn.

Earlier, many activists warned that with leaders of the wealthiest nations deciding not to attend, the conference in Rome on Monday is essentially powerless.

None of the leaders of the G8 group of industrialised nations are attending the conference, apart from Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, at the meeting of delegates from 60 nations.

Humanitarian agencies had hoped the summit would agree greater assistance to the world's one billion hungry people.

Frederic Mousseau, an Oxfam spokesman, said: "Rich countries are failing to show enough interest and urgency.

"At the G8 in Italy this summer they pledged $20bn for agriculture over three years, so they believe they have done enough. They haven't - and the $20bn is a mirage."

'Moral outrage'

Pope Benedict XVI will be an introductory speaker at the "Hunger Summit", which is being held at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) headquarters.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the Brazilian President, Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's leader, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, are also slated to attend.

Avvenire, an Italian bishops' newspaper, complained that the draft final declaration failed to mention the $44bn Jacques Diouf, the FAO head, has requested for agriculture in less developed nations.

"Every six seconds a child dies of hunger," Diouf said last week.

"This enormous tragedy is not only a moral outrage and an economic absurdity, but also it presents a serious threat to our collective peace and security."

The draft declaration seeks to commit leaders to a new strategy to promote agricultural development aid, but lacks a target date for eradication of hunger - set by the UN at 2025.

The draft was "just a rehash of old platitudes," Francisco Sarmento, Action Aid's food rights co-ordinator, said.

The Islamic Development Bank committed $1bn for projects with the FAO on Sunday, the agency said.

Source:
Agencies
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