Meeting shortfall in funding for WFP top priority

GENEVA/ROME: The U.N. will establish a task force to tackle the global food crisis, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced in the Swiss capital Bern Tuesday.

Mr. Ban, who will head the task force himself, announced the decision after a meeting with 27 key international agencies. The U.N. would initiate a series of emergent and long-term measures to deal with the crisis, he told reporters.

The U.N. chief said the first priority of the high-level task force would be to meet a shortfall of $755 million in funding for the World Food Program. “We anticipate that additional funding will be required,” Mr. Ban said. He noted that more was needed to provide for future needs.

Mr. Ban said the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation had a $1.7-billion plan to provide seeds for farmers in the world’s poorest countries.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick, who also attended the meeting, urged the international community to focus on the long-term measures on the food crisis.

“This crisis isn’t over once the emergency needs are met,” he said. After the meeting, WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said the crisis was another urgent reason to conclude the Doha round of trade talks.

The Doha round of trade talks aims at liberalising food and other goods as well as services by cutting tariffs and subsidies.

FAO conference

The FAO will host a high-level international Conference on World Food Security and the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy in Rome from June 3 to 5.

Heads of state and government and Ministers will discuss the current global food situation with soaring food prices, how climate change affects agriculture, and how agriculture can contribute to reduce climate change, according to the FAO’s latest press release.

The objective of the conference is to assist countries and the international community in finding sustainable solutions by identifying the policies, strategies and programs required to safeguard world food security.

An estimated 850 million people in the world today suffer from hunger. Of those, about 820 million live in developing countries, the very countries expected to be most affected by climate change. — Xinhua