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UN chief: Billions of dollars needed yearly to fight food crisis
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He warned that to ensure world food security is a fight that must be won.

"This is a fight we can not afford to lose. The enemy is hunger. Hunger degrades everything we have been fighting for in recent years and decades," he said.

The UN World Food Program (WFP) announced Wednesday it is rolling out an additional 1.2 billion US dollars in food assistance to help tens of millions of people in more than 60 nations hardest hit by the urgent food crisis.

"With soaring food and fuel prices, hunger is on the march and we must act now," WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said in a statement. "If we do not act quickly, the bottom billion will become the bottom two billion virtually overnight as their purchasing power is cut in half due to a doubling in food and fuel prices."

The Rome-based organization planned to provide roughly 5 billion US dollars to help nearly 90 million people in 78 countries this year.

FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf told the press conference that the Islamic Development Bank would spend 1.5 billion US dollars on agriculture in the poorest countries.

The bank's President Ahmad Mohamed Ali said the money was not intended as emergency aid to deal with shortages of food or rising prices, but would be used to buy seeds and fertilizer for farmers as well as to fund research into improving yields.

The three-day summit, which kicked off Tuesday, was the first global response to the recent cycle of food prices hike, aimed at winning donor pledges for urgent aid as short-term solutions and also to generate longer term strategies to safeguard food production.

(Xinhua News Agency June 5, 2008)

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