FAO: Hunger down in Latin America, Caribbean

In Ecuador, a female farmer brings in the harvest.
In Ecuador, a female farmer brings in the harvest. Courtesy U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization

Latin American and Caribbean nations together have almost halved the number of people suffering from hunger, although an aggressive push is needed to fully meet a goal set at by a U.N. agriculture agency, according to a new report.

The region has made 92 percent progress toward a World Food Summit goal of cutting hunger in half by 2015 through focused food and nutrition security policies, support of family farming and better regional and domestic trade, the Food and Agriculture Organization said in a report released Wednesday.

But fully achieving the goal will require a reduction in hunger by 2.75 million people in 2015 — the average annual reduction over the last two decades has been 1.4 million people, the FAO’s regional expert said.

“Considering the region’s renewed commitment to food security, there is reason to believe that during 2015 Latin America and the Caribbean could make this giant leap towards the eradication of hunger,” said Raul Benitez, the FAO’s Latin American and Caribbean representative.

Benitez said a retooled hunger eradication plan of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the region’s main cooperative body, could help the region meet its goal. Adoption of the plan is expected at a regional summit next month in Costa Rica.

The FAO’s latest report, “Panorama of Food and Nutritional Security 2014,” shows hunger in the region fell from 68.5 million to 37 million people over two decades. The greatest reduction occurred in Latin America, from 60.3 million people to 29.5 million today. The decrease was slower in the Caribbean, from 8.1 million people to 7.5 million.

The report notes that many of the region’s nations have already met hunger targets set in the Millennium Development Goals, an ambitious agenda for global poverty reduction, before the 2015 deadline. Fourteen countries, including Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Chile, and Cuba have respectively reduced hunger from 15 percent of total populations to slightly more than 6 percent.

Benitez said a continued downward trend could see the current generation as the last to suffer hunger in the region.