Rome.– Funding from an Islamic bank will help develop agriculture in poor countries, a U.N. food agency said ahead of a summit to discuss the so-far elusive goal of reducing the number of hungry people in the world.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, which hosted a three-day summit, said it had reached a deal with the Islamic Development Bank for $1 billion in funding to help develop agriculture in poor countries that belong to both organizations.
"This agreement comes at a critical moment, when the international community recognizes it has neglected agriculture for many years,'' the Rome-based agency said Nov. 15. "Today, sustained investment in agriculture –especially small-holder agriculture– is acknowledged as the key to food security.''
Organizers of the gathering, to be attended by some 60 heads of state, agriculture ministers and other officials, hope to wean national policies away from long-standing emphasis on food aid and instead generate support for a new approach: help farmers, livestock herders and fishermen to produce enough food for their own people.
U.N. officials pointed to villages in Kenya, Pakistan and Haiti to show this is possible. The last summit in June 2008 concentrated on how climate change and soaring food prices were undermining food security.