Agriculture key to meeting UN anti-poverty goals

Published on ABS-CBN news, by AFP, Oct. 19, 2007.

The World Bank warned Friday that the UN goal of halving the incidence of poverty and hunger in the poorest countries would go unmet unless agriculture took center stage in development aid.

“Poverty is overwhelmingly rural and will be for decades to come,” World Bank chief economist Francois Bourguignon said at the presentation of the Bank’s annual World Development Report.

He said the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving the percentage of people living on less than a dollar a day by 2015 “will only be met in poor countries if much greater attention is paid to agriculture as an instrument for development” …

… “We are in front of political economy problems in some countries,” he said. “It is true that agricultural producers are able to exert pressure on the rest of society.”

The Bank report in particular called on the United States to reduce cotton subsidies that it said depress prices for African smallholders.

The World Trade Organization recently ruled that US subsidies to cotton farmers breached global trade rules.

The finding confirmed a preliminary ruling in July in favor of Brazil, which initially brought the complaint in 2005, and paved the way for sanctions. (full text).

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