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Hunger in an age of plenty

If you look at the data that’s collected by the FAO and by the US agriculture department you see that this trend where, not only is that the total number of hungry continuing to grow and now it’s above a billion which is the highest level since the late 1960s or early 1970s. But that for the first time in a few decades we are actually seeing the percent of the world that is hungry beginning to grow. So in the ‘70s and the ‘80s and in the ‘90s there was gradual progress against hunger where a percent of the world that is hungry actually declined. And you would expect to see that because the world's population was growing. Even though the number of hungry pretty much stagnated in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but in the last decade we actually saw both the number of hungry accelerate and we saw the percent of the world's hungry continue to grow. So, basically making it impossible through the world to meet the goals that were set out, the world food summit to have the number of hungry.

Africa is vastly behind the other countries, the other regions of the world in terms of fertilizer usage for instance. The soils are so depleted through generations of use without nutrients being restored back into them. Seed research and seed development has also fallen so far behind other parts of the world. So even the use of conventional breeding and hybrid seeds, corn or wheat is also a rare occasion in a lot of places in Africa. So what one has seen, and I guess what – say the famine of Ethiopia in 2003 really show was in addition to the lack of this agriculture technology or being behind other places in the world that had the green revolution or other agricultural transformations, is that all these other things around it as you described and we described in the book had also failed. From the famine in Ethiopia in 1984 and that horrible calamity, for instance, there was this bigger push in Ethiopia than elsewhere in Africa to produce, produce, produce. And the emphasis was on producing more food and that was good because that was the obvious problem, well there is not enough food that’s available, there are horrible shortages.

Added by View user profileD C on May 26, 2011