One in 8 goes to bed hungry: UN

One out of every eight people in the world is chronically undernourished, the United Nations’ food agencies said on Tuesday, warning that progress to reduce hunger has slowed since 2007/08 when high food prices sparked riots in several poor countries.

In their latest report on food insecurity, the UN agencies estimated that 868 million people were suffering hunger in 2010-2012, or about 12.5 percent of the world's population, down more sharply than previously estimated from about 1 billion, or 18.6 percent in 1990-92.

The new figures are lower than the last estimates for recent years that pegged the number of hungry people at 925 million in 2010 and 1.02 billion in 2009.

“That is better news than we have had in the past, but it still means that one person in every eight goes hungry. That is unacceptable, especially when we live in a world of plenty,” said Jose Graziano da Silva, director general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

“Most of the progress in hunger reduction was made until 2006, as food price levels continued to decline. With the rise in food prices and the economic crisis that followed, there have been many fewer advances,” he warned.

Food prices have been on an upward trend over the past few months, fuelled by drought in the United States, Russia and other major exporters, and FAO expects prices to remain close to levels reached during the 2008 food crisis.

But Graziano da Silva said the world can still achieve the Millennium Development Goal to halve the prevalence of undernourishment in the developing world by 2015 if efforts are boosted to reverse the slowdown in progress.

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