Number of hungry could hit 1 billion

Associated Press / May 7, 2009
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PARIS - The number of hungry people in the world could soon hit a record 1 billion, despite a recent drop in food prices, the UN food aid organization said yesterday.

The recent financial crisis, though it has helped to bring global food prices down, also has led to falling trade and lower development aid, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization's general director, Jacques Diouf.

As a result of the crisis, an additional 104 million people were likely to go hungry this year - meaning they receive fewer than 1,800 calories a day, Diouf told reporters after a two-day meeting in Paris between the FAO and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The number of people considered hungry increased last year as well, by 40 million, Diouf said.

If the projection for 2009 proves accurate, that would mean that approximately 1 billion people - or roughly one-sixth of the world's population - will go hungry by the end of the year, Diouf said.

In the developing world, food prices have dropped 12 percent to 14 percent since June 2008, he said, but overall prices still remain above 2006 levels.