FAO to issue global appeal for
private funds

NEW DELHI, 15 May 1997 (G-77) - With its traditional donors turning tightfisted, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) will rope in private business and individuals worldwide in its fight against hunger, the FAO chief declared in the Indian capital.

FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said a global appeal for corporate and individual donations would go out around World Food Day in October this year to all 174 of the FAO's member nations.

Diouf, in India on the first leg of a visit to two countries in South Asia, told the press that the aim is ''to raise awareness on issues of food security ... to register the support of civil society, particularly the private sector.''

The Oct. 17 to 19 telecast, to be beamed from Rome by the Italian Television company RAI International, is going to be the centre-piece of the first world TeleFood event that is being planned. To make it a truly global event, RAI will be asking national TV stations for pre-recorded or live contributions to the telecast.

''TeleFood is dedicated to creating awareness of the scourge of hunger and to mobilising resources to help accelerate action to provide lasting solutions to the problem,'' says an FAO document about the event obtained from the world food body's New Delhi-based India and Bhutan office.

The telecast will include reports on world hunger, the FAO Special Programme For Food Security and other anti-hunger schemes in the poorest parts of the world. Member nations can have their own TeleFood programmes with a common logo and signature tune.
The funds raised would be used only for the food security projects, specially the Special Programme for Food Security for 87 Low Income Food Deficit Countries, including India. ''No funds will be diverted to administrative or other costs: every dollar contributed will go to providing practical support to the men, women and children benefiting from the Special Programme or other projects,'' says the document.

The whole exercise is being planned to increase world-wide awareness, among people and their governments, to the precarious state of food security as the world moves into a new millennium - - of concern to the FAO.

Its chief spent a while with the Indian press on Wednesday after inaugurating South Asia's only ''phytotron'' facility at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) here.

Set up jointly by the FAO, the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) and Indian scientists, the 4.2-million dollar phytotron will enable South Asian farm researchers to breed new food crop varieties suitable for any agroclimatic zone.

Addressing farm scientists earlier, Diouf said the phytotron had a crucial role in combating hunger in the South Asia region, which is home to a large proportion of the world's estimated 800 million underfed people.

The World Food Summit organised by the FAO in Rome last November spelt out a detailed blueprint to halve global hunger by the year 2015 and to feed the nearly nine billion people expected in the world by the year 2030.

''I am personally confident that we can feed nine billion people by the year 2030,'' Diouf said. But this needs concerted international efforts involving governments, farm research bodies and the private sector, including business and non-governmental organisations.
It could contribute to the Special Programme for Food Security for poor nations with large pockets of hunger. Pilot projects are on in 18 nations under this programme to protect crops from too much or too little water, boost yields, diversify farm activities and find the social and political reasons for low productivity.