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World Leaders Urged to Meet Development Goals by 2015

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This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

World leaders are meeting in New York to discuss progress on the Millennium Development Goals they set ten years ago. Five years remain to meet eight goals to reduce hunger, poverty and disease and expand education.

On Monday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened a three-day summit meeting of one hundred forty presidents and prime ministers. Mr. Ban called for renewed efforts to meet the goals, saying there is much more to do. He said the economic crisis "cannot be an excuse" for limiting development efforts.

A U.N. report says the world had more than one billion undernourished people last year. That followed the food crisis of two thousand seven and eight.

This year, improved economic conditions are expected to reduce the number of hungry for the first time in fifteen years. The number is predicted to drop by almost one hundred million to nine hundred twenty-five million.

Jacques Diouf, head of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, says that is still "unacceptably high."

JACQUES DIOUF: "The expected decline in world hunger in two thousand ten is primarily the result of better access to food as the global economy recovers, and food prices remain below their peak level of mid-two thousand eight."

But wheat prices rose after Russia halted grain exports in August because of a severe drought. That ban is now extended until next year's harvest.

In Mozambique, thirteen people died in recent riots over higher prices for bread, electricity and water. The cost of bread rose by thirty percent after the government ended price supports. After the protests the government said it would halt the price increases.

This Friday, officials from FAO member countries will meet in Rome to discuss current supply and demand for grains and rice.

A top FAO official recently said on the agency's website that a new food crisis appears unlikely. Hafez Ghanem said there is no cause to worry, unless there is another "shock to supply." He gave examples like more bad weather or government policies that shake the market.

The U.N. says two-thirds of the world’s undernourished people live in seven countries. These are India, China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.

And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson with Sabina Castelfranco and Steve Baragona. I'm Bob Doughty.