Roundup: Latin America leads hunger reduction over past two decades

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SANTIAGO, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- The Latin America and Caribbean region has made the biggest progress in the world in hunger reduction over the past 20 years, according to a report released Tuesday by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

In Latin America, better wages and more public spendings have helped to alleviate hunger, though the region has one of the worst income disparities in the world, said the report entitled "the State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012."

Hunger affected 14.6 percent of the population in the region from 1990 to 1992, or 65 million people, while in the 2010-2012 period, hunger affected only 8.3 percent of the population, or 49 million people, according to the report.

The figure is an important step toward fulfilling the World Food Summit's goals and the first of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, the report said.

The region registered economic growth above that of the developed countries during the recent economic crisis, allowing it to reduce hunger, though at a slower rate than in the past, it said.

"The Latin American countries, more than any other regions, reduced both proportion and the number of people affected by malnutrition over that period," the report said, while noting that the reduction rate has slowed down from an annual rate of 1.9 percent in the 2002-2005 period to 0.9 percent in the 2006-2009 period.

By contrast, "hunger has increased in developed regions from 13 million people in 2004-2006 to 16 million in 2010-2012," the report said.

Over the past three years, countries such as Brazil and Peru have made significant progress in the reduction of hunger. The number of people affected by hunger decreased by 2 million in both countries, registering a 2-percent drop for Brazil and a 4-percent for Peru, said the report.

FAO regional representative Raul Benitez said the decrease "has all the potential and conditions to eradicate hunger."

The report, compiled by FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Program, said that over the past two decades, the number of hunger-affected people in the world decreased by 132 million to 868 million, which accounts for 12.5 percent of the world's total population.

The report stroke a promising tone, saying that the improvement means the first of the MDGs can be within reach if right measures are adopted. Enditem

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