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UN takes action on food crisis

As the world reels under soaring food prices that have triggered riots across the third world, the UN is taking urgent measures to respond to the crisis, according to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

Mr. Ban announced on Sunday that the world body would put in place a high-powered task force as a response in dealing with the global food crisis.

Speaking at the opening session of the UNCTAD XII conference in Ghana’s capital, Accra, Mr. Ban said the task force would deal with the long-term food security, agricultural policies, financing, markets and all causes of the crisis.

The prices of food have gone up by half and are rising on daily basis, leading to protest in Haiti, Egypt, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, among other countries.

The rise has been blamed on spiralling oil prices, which have resulted in increasing transportation cost; the continuous fall in the value of the US dollar as well as changes in the global consumption pattern, among others.

“We need a real world and not the world of economic theories…I will work into this right now with a sense of urgency,” Mr. Ban pledged, and urged the international committee to redouble efforts in addressing the situation.

He said global economic growth could suffer if the food crisis was not handled with the seriousness it deserved, adding: “One thing is certain, the world has consumed more than it has produced.”

To respond to the crisis, the World Food Programme intends to raise US$750 million annually to feed 73 million people in 80 countries.

Efforts must also be made to increase agricultural production, improve market efficiency and launch a green agricultural revolution in Africa.

“We must make no mistakes, the problem is big. If we offer the right aid, the solutions will come,” Mr. Ban said.

On globalisation, the UN chief said while the process had chalked some successes in transforming the economies of some developing countries, it had also led to the marginalisation of the majority of the people.

“The poorest of the world poor are not being pulled along and there is the need for fresh thinking and fresh approaches,” Mr. Ban said, and urged the rich countries to assist the poorer ones through initiatives such as aid to trade, which is a better to bring out of poverty.

He also touched on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and warned that the world risked losing the progress that had been made in the past seven years in attainment of the goals.

In this connection, Mr. Ban said a high level meeting on the MDGs would be held on the sidelines of the General Assembly of the UN.

On the Doha rounds of trade negotiations, which have taken so long to conclude, he said there was the urgent need to see the successful conclusion of the round.

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