The number of hungry people in India has increased by 65 million — more than the population of France — because economic development excluded the rural poor, and welfare programmes failed to reach them, according to charity organisation Oxfam.
In a report titled ‘Growing a better future’, it said today that India’s economy doubled in size from 1990 to 2005, but the number of hungry in the country had risen by 65 million during the period.
Oxfam also warned that average prices of staple crops will more than double in 20 years if urgent action is not taken to change the international food system, which is already failing to feed nearly a billion people a day.
Oxfam research forecasts that average international prices of key staples, such as maize, will increase by between 120 and 180 per cent by 2030, with up to half of this increase due to climate change.
The world’s poorest people, who spend up to 80 per cent of their income on food, will be hit hardest.
An Oxfam release says that decades of steady progress in the fight against hunger is now being allegedly reversed as demand outpaces food production.
Depleting natural resources, a scramble for fertile land and water, and the gathering pace of climate change is already making the situation worse, it adds.
Oxfam warns that by 2050, demand for food will rise by 70 per cent yet our capacity to increase production is declining.
The average growth rate in agricultural yields has almost halved since 1990 and is set to decline to a fraction of one per cent in the next decade.
Oxfam Chief Executive Barbara Stocking said, “We are sleepwalking towards an avoidable age of crisis. One in seven people on the planet go hungry every day despite the fact that the world is capable of feeding everyone.
“The food system must be overhauled if we are to overcome the increasingly pressing challenges of climate change, spiralling food prices and the scarcity of land, water and energy. We must consign hunger to history.”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “Many governments and companies will be resistant to change through habit, ideology or the pursuit of profit. It is up to us — you and me — to persuade them by choosing food that’s produced fairly and sustainably, by cutting our carbon footprints and by joining with Oxfam and others to demand change.”
Former President Lula of Brazil said, “We can’t wait anymore. Political leaders and global companies must act now to ensure that all people can put food on their table.
There are no excuses. We have the capacity to feed everyone on the planet now and in the future.
“If the political will is there, no one will be denied their fundamental human right to be free from hunger.”