U.N.: $20 billion needed yearly to fight hunger

/ Source: The Associated Press

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that $15 billion to $20 billion is needed each year to boost food production to combat hunger.

The United Nations secretary-general was speaking at a summit on the food price crisis.

Ban said most of that money would have to come from concerned countries.

Delegates at the summit in Rome have been divided over the role that biofuels play in driving up food prices to the point of provoking riots in some countries.

Ban also said policy guidelines on biofuel production should be put in place because of its impact on food production.

Meanwhile, the head of a U.N. aid agency said Wednesday that an extra $1.2 billion in donated funds will provide food for 75 million people going hungry because of soaring food prices.

Many people in poor countries cannot afford to buy the food available in markets, World Food Program head Josette Sheeran said.

The new funds, from a "generous response" of donors, will go for food in more than 60 countries that have been hardest hit by the food crisis, Sheeran told a U.N. food summit.

"We have mobilized our 10,000 employees and every dollar and euro given to us, to reach as many hungry people as we can at this critical time," Sheeran said in a written statement.

Sheeran told the summit that she had recently returned from Myanmar where "there was food in the market" but that many people, left hungry by the cyclone, did not have the money to buy rice.

Sheeran said WFP was purchasing 80 percent of the food for distribution in the local countries.