Latin American governments to strengthen fight against poverty

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Thursday urged Latin American governments to strengthen the fight against poverty as 49 million people in the continent suffer from hunger despite steadily growing economies.

The economic growth in the region has failed to ease hunger, though 16 million people have succeeded in overcoming the worst scourge of poverty in the past 20 years, the FAO said in a report released Thursday.

Presenting the report, entitled "Prospect of Food and Nutritional Security in Latin America and the Caribbean 2012," FAO Policy Officer Adoniram Sanches said 8.3 percent of the region’s population does not get the daily number of calories needed for a healthy life.

"Eradicating hunger should be the region’s priority, because it is an absolute requirement for people’s development and welfare," Sanches said.

According to the report, only nine of the region’s 33 countries had a hunger rate lower than 5 percent, while the average rate in 16 of them has surpassed 10 percent.

Haiti was the poorest country in the region with a 44.5-percent rate of hunger, followed by Guatemala at 30.4 percent and Paraguay at 25.5 percent.

However, figures of regional production, productivity, commercial development and social protection showed hunger rates can be cut with adequate policies, the report said.

It noted that the region’s agricultural output and international trade in food have increased due to high international prices of exportable products, which stimulated investment and growth.

"It is necessary to reinforce support for regional political and economic integration organizations focused on food security," the report said.

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