FAO warns of high food prices in 2014

• Global hunger down, but millions still chronically hungry

• 842 million people undernourished in 2011-13 

• Developing nations make progress but more efforts needed to reach MDG target

AS Nigerians make preparations for the Yuletide celebrations, they should brace up for possible hike in food prices in the coming year.

      The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is now warning a food shortage and high food prices in the country come next year. 

      FAO has cited failed rainfall, high prices of farm inputs, uncertified seeds and the lethal maize disease as some of the main challenges facing the agriculture sector.

       This came as the government, FAO and other development partners embarked on an assessment of the food security situation in high and medium potential areas of the country.

      FAO Geographical Information Systems (GIS) officer, Joseph Matere, in a statement said that 24 counties would be covered in the assessment.

      According to Matere, the exercise would target crops, fisheries and livestock sector and the smart phone technology would be used to collect and relay data from the field.

     “FAO is supporting the government in the annual assessment and we shall use smart phone system which is efficient, real time, gives readily available data and helps put in mitigation measures,” he said.

      The GIS officer noted that at the end of the assessment exercise, the nine teams spread across the country would come up with the national cereal, milk and fish balance sheets.

      “The exercise is meant to review the country’s food situation now and in the next six months and we are calling on other development partners to assist in such kind of projects,” he said.

      The officers were speaking during the launch of the assessment exercise, which is also supported by The Millennium water alliance and the German Agro-action.

     Meanwhile, according to a report released by the UN food agencies, some 842 million people, or roughly one in eight, suffered from chronic hunger in 2011-13, not getting enough food to lead active and healthy lives 

         The number is down from 868 million reported for the 2010-12 period, according to the State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI 2013), published every year by FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP). The vast majority of hungry people live in developing regions, while 15.7 million live in developed countries.

         Continued economic growth in developing countries has improved incomes and access to food. Recent pick-up in agricultural productivity growth, supported by increased public investment and renewed interest of private investors in agriculture, has improved food availability.

      In addition, in some countries, remittances from migrants are playing a role in reducing poverty, leading to better diets and progress in food security. They can also contribute to boosting productive investments by smallholder farmers

      Despite the progress made worldwide, marked differences in hunger reduction persist. Sub-Saharan Africa has made only modest progress in recent years and remains the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment, with one in four people (24.8 per cent) estimated to be hungry.

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