The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on Thursday listed Nigeria among 38 countries that have met internationally-established targets in the fight against hunger, ahead of the 2015 MDGs deadline.
FAO Director-General José da Silva said, in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Addis Ababa, that these countries “are leading the way to a better future.“
“They are proof that with strong political will, coordination and cooperation, it is possible to achieve rapid and lasting reductions in hunger.“
According to the statement, Nigeria is among the list of 20 countries that have met Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number one.
“Nigeria is among the countries that have halved the proportion of hungry people.
“The progress of the affected countries was measured between 1990 to 1992 and 2010 to 2012, against benchmarks established by the international community at the UN General Assembly in 2000,“ the statement said.
The countries achieving MDG 1 alone were identified to include Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chile, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Malawi, Maldives, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Togo and Uruguay.
The statement, however, said only 18 countries were able to achieve both MDG 1 and the more stringent World Food Summit (WFS) goal, having reduced by half the absolute number of undernourished people between 1990 to 1992 and 2010 to 2012.
The WFS goal was set in 1996, when 180 nations met at FAO headquarters to discuss ways to end hunger.
The FAO listed the countries achieving both MDG 1 and the WFS to include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cuba, Djibouti, Georgia, Ghana, Guyana, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Nicaragua.
Others include Peru, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) and Viet Nam.
Da Silva, however, said in spite of the success story, the State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012 report showed “that the vast majority of the hungry persons numbering about 852 million, live in developing countries, with Africa recording the highest cases.
He said the figure represented around 15 per cent of their population, while 16 million people are undernourished in developed countries.
“Also, in spite of the overall downward trend and national successes, hunger has been on the rise in Africa, in recent years.
“Globally, food insecurity today is largely a problem of access to the resources or services needed by families to produce, purchase, or otherwise obtain enough nutritious food.“
He said Agriculture played a pivotal role in providing access to food as more than 70 per cent of the poor live in rural areas and most of them depend directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihoods.
“Raising agricultural productivity is therefore an important element in improving access to food.“
The FAO boss said he was encouraged by signs of increased commitment in many countries to ending hunger and malnutrition through sustainable agriculture and development, including participation in regional programmes inspired by the Zero Hunger Challenge.
He urged the countries to keep up the momentum aiming at a complete eradication of hunger, in keeping with the Zero Hunger Challenge launched in 2012 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“Globally, hunger has declined over the past decade, but 870 million people are still undernourished, and millions of others suffer the consequences of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, including child stunting.
“We need to keep up our efforts, until everyone can live a healthy and productive lives.“
FAO according to the statement said that the countries will be honoured in at high-level ceremony at the FAO headquarters on June 16, during the week-long meeting of the FAO Conference, the organisation’s highest governing body.