Poverty unemployment key to defeating hunger FAO told as session opens

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 31st session of the FAO Conference, Patricio Aylwin said the problem of hunger could not be solved only by increasing agricultural production. “The problem is more complex and refers to the lack of income and employment, and consequently high levels of poverty,” he said. “Only poverty has been truly globalized in our age.”Drawing attention to the fact that FAO founder Frank McDougall and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for whom Mr. McDougall acted as an advisor, both believed hunger and poverty could be eradicated in a generation, Mr. Aylwin said he wondered how, 56 years later, there had been so little progress in helping the poor. The reasons for this “tragic failure” were to be found in the lack of political commitment of richer countries to help the poor ones, of developing countries themselves to help their poor, and in wrong economic approaches, he stressed. Mr. Aylwin, who served as Chile’s President from 1990 to 1994, was invited by FAO to deliver the lecture as a statesman who has contributed to the strengthening of democracy in the entire Latin American region. Turning to Latin America and the Caribbean, Mr. Aylwin said that according to ECLAC, the UN Commission in the region, there was a slowdown in economic growth during the 1990s that followed the implementation of the structural adjustments recommended by the international funding institutions. He noted that the numbers of poor people increased by 28 million while the problem of unequal income distribution persisted. Most employment opportunities were generated in the informal sector and wages in several sectors were lower than those of the previous decade.In other news from FAO, the agency announced today that it had awarded CNN’s Jim Clancy and Indian journalist Palagummi Sainath this year’s A.H. Boerma Award, which recognizes journalistic excellence in raising awareness of global hunger. The prize brings with it an award of $10,000, to be split between the winners.

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