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Investment in Agriculture Urged on World Food Day

Forty countries face food shortages worldwide: Transcript of radio broadcast.

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

October sixteenth is World Food Day. This day is also the anniversary of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The U.N. agency leads international efforts to defeat world hunger. It was created in nineteen forty-five.

The F.A.O. says more than one hundred fifty countries are holding special events to observe World Food Day. At F.A.O. headquarters in Rome, for example, runners competed in a five kilometer race through the city's historical area. Events in other countries include discussions among experts, press conferences and musical programs.

The message of this year's World Food Day is "investing in agriculture for food security." The F.A.O. says foreign aid for agriculture has decreased during the past twenty years. During the early nineteen eighties, the agency reports nine thousand million dollars was provided each year. In the late nineteen nineties, foreign aid for agriculture had dropped to less than five thousand million dollars a year. Yet, the Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that more than eight hundred fifty million people around the world do not get enough food.

The U.N. agency notes that most of the world's farmers grow small amounts of food. But, many face problems feeding themselves. The F.A.O. says agricultural aid could help small farmers make a profit from their crops. Farmers would also be able to feed their families throughout the year and reinvest in their farms. And, they could buy better seeds, equipment and chemical fertilizers to help their crops grow.

Separately, the Nobel Peace Prize for two thousand six has been awarded to economist Muhammad Yunus and his Bangladesh microfinance organization, the Grameen Bank. The award recognizes their efforts to improve the lives of poor people. The Grameen Bank lends small amounts of money to poor people who are unable to get traditional loans, especially women. The money is used for simple projects that help women support themselves.

Mister Yunus says he plans to give his share of the one million three hundred thousand dollar Nobel award to good causes. He says he wants to establish an eye hospital and start a project to produce low-cost food for the poor.

And that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jill Moss. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to