Bono says Africa could become breadbasket

UN Malaria Summit
Musicians Youssou N'Dour, of Senegal, left, and Bono listen to speakers at the United Nations 2008 Millennium Development Goals Malaria Summit in New York on Thursday. Kathy Willens / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

U2 frontman Bono said Africa has the potential to become a major food producer rather than the epicenter of much of the world's starvation.

Speaking Thursday at the launch of the Irish Hunger Commission Report, the Irish rock star-turned-activist said its ideas could transform the world's poorest continent.

"Africa can be a breadbasket, a net producer, that is possible if we turn the ideas in this report into action," he said.

Bono was joined for the report's release by Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, economist Jeffery Sachs, the report's author Joe Walsh and Sheila Sissulu, deputy executive director of the World Food Organization.

The report calls for increased productivity for African agriculture, targeting infant and maternal nutrition and changes in government and leadership priorities. It also called for the appointment of a special envoy to lead the fight against world hunger.

Walsh, a former Irish agriculture and food minister who led the group writing the report over the course of a year, said world hunger could be defeated only if people remained vigilant and called on governments to implement commitments already made.

"We must never lose our sense of outrage, our sense of anger that 862 million people that do not have enough to eat, because if we lose our anger about this then we have lost our humanity," Walsh said.

Jeffery Sachs, who acts as a special adviser for the Secretary-General for Millennium Development Goals, called the report historic.

"We're in the middle of a global food crisis and Ireland is the first country to step forward with an intellectually coherent and comprehensive approach with specific and important commitments to address this crisis in a way that other countries also can emulate," he said.