UN agency highlights plight of 54 million hungry people in Latin America

The head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today called for urgent attention to the plight of 54 million hungry people in Latin America and the Caribbean.Addressing an FAO regional meeting in Havana, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf warned that without substantial improvements in reducing hunger and malnutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean, progress in other areas of the fight against poverty, such as health and education, would be impossible. He noted that there were some 211 million people in the region living in poverty, including the 54 million suffering from chronic malnutrition.While agriculture had a strategic importance for the social and economic life of Latin American and Caribbean countries, Dr. Diouf noted that in the last 10 years, growth in the sector has been weak and erratic, reaching only 2.7 per cent in 2000, compared with 4.2 per cent the previous year.The FAO Director-General also urged regional leaders to participate in the upcoming forum, known as “World Food Summit: five years later,” which he described as a good opportunity for them to express, at the highest political level, the views of one of the most important agricultural regions on the planet, thus contributing to the success of the meeting and to the reduction of world hunger.