The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations says the world has made progress in reducing hunger over the past two decades.
The FAO State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012 report presents new estimates of undernourishment based on a revised and improved methodology.
It said the new estimates showed that progress in reducing hunger during the past 20 years had been better than previously believed and that given renewed efforts, it might be possible to reach the Millennium Development Goal hunger target at the global level by 2015.
However, the reports noted that the number of people suffering from chronic undernourishment was still unacceptably high, and eradication of hunger remained a major global challenge.
The FAO report entitled: “The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012” noted also that economic growth was necessary but not sufficient to accelerate reduction of hunger and malnutrition.
This year’s report also discussed the role of economic growth in reducing undernourishment.
It said sustainable agricultural growth was often effective in reaching the poor because most of the poor and hungry live in rural areas and depended on agriculture for a significant part of their livelihoods.
The report said, however, growth would not necessarily result in better nutrition for all.
“Policies and programmes that will ensure ‘nutrition-sensitive’ growth include supporting increased dietary diversity, improving access to safe drinking water, sanitation and health services and educating consumers regarding adequate nutrition and child care practices,” the report said.
According to the report, economic growth took time to reach the poor, and might not reach the poorest of the poor.
“Therefore, social protection is crucial for eliminating hunger as rapidly as possible and finally, rapid progress in reducing hunger requires government action to provide key public goods and services within a governance system based on transparency, participation, accountability, rule of law and human rights,” the report added.