Posted by: APO | 18 April 2008

Governments ‘an accomplice to hunger’ says ActionAid, in the face of spiraling food prices

Governments ‘an accomplice to hunger’ says ActionAid, in the face of spiraling food prices


London, April 18th 2008 – The US needs to divert all its corn production onto the world food market to alleviate spiraling food prices, instead of subsidizing the crop for biofuels, according to anti-poverty group ActionAid.


“The current global food crisis is an outrageous example of how governments are being at best, negligent and at worst, an accomplice in the trend of increasing hunger,” said Adriano Campolina, Head of Food Rights with ActionAid.


“The international community must urgently increase aid to sustainable agriculture and support net food importing countries. The world produces enough food for all of us”, he said.


In addition, to help stem the crisis, food aid needs to be increased and sourced locally or regionally, added the NGO.


Countries need to be assisted to build up staple food stocks, procuring them from poor farmers in country, where possible.


In Bangladesh, where Cyclone Sidr decimated crops last November, people took to the streets in protest as a result of food price rises.


“My income was literally cut in half as the price of a kilo of rice doubled to 35 Taka (25 pence), said Ms Razia Begum, 26, a shopkeeper in Kurigram, nearly 400 kilometres north of Dhaka in Bangladesh.


“Last year I used to buy two kilos for the same amount,” she said.


Razia is among hundreds of people whose daily income used to be Tk 15 (12 pence) a day. Now she earns between Tk 130-150 (almost a pound sterling).


But this amount is still not enough to feed her family of six and she makes extra money by selling groceries.


Though Razia has cattle, a loader cycle rickshaw, a house and a small shop, she feels the food price hike has made her life very difficult.


And if Razia is hit hard by the price hikes, she wonders how people still earning less than 12 pence a day are coping.


“If women are given a piece of land and a small amount to earn from this land, their lives could be changed,” she said.


Actionaid believes a lasting solution to the pressures on food supply must include increased investment in smallholder agriculture, and action to reduce the devastating effects of climate change on developing country food production.


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