About 14 per cent of the world's population is malnourished. In sub-Saharan Africa the figure is more than 30 per cent. Reducing world hunger by half is one of the top Millennium Development Goals set out by the United Nations, and the Hunger Task Force, established in October 2002, has just published a report outlining the steps needed to meet that goal.
In this article, Pedro A. Sanchez, director of tropical agriculture at the Earth Institute of Columbia University in New York City, United States, and the Indian agricultural scientist M. S. Swaminathan summarise the report’s seven recommendations, which cover economic, health and social welfare issues.
Many of the proposals hinge on science and technology, such as doubling investments in national agricultural research, providing genetically superior crops and livestock to boost productivity, and promoting simple technological solutions such as rooftop water harvesting to ease rural women’s workloads.
Although the Millennium Project estimates that reducing hunger will cost anything from US$8 to 11 billion over the next decade, Sanchez and Swaminathan say the effort needed is well within our financial and technological capability.