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Latin America on the path to defeat hunger, U.N. agency says

FLASH BACK: FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva with Samuel A.A. Hinds, Prime Minister of Guyana. Side Event: Recognizing outstanding progress in fighting hunger. Twenty countries have satisfied Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number one, to halve the proportion of hungry people between 1990-92 and 2010-2012, as established by the international community at the UN General Assembly in 2000. An additional 18 countries were congratulated for reaching both MDG-1 and the more stringent World Food Summit (WFS) goal to reduce by half the absolute number of undernourished people between 1990-92 and 2010-2012. The WFS goal was set in 1996, when 180 nations met at FAO headquarters to discuss ways to end hunger. FAO Conference, 38th Session. FAO headquarters. Photo credit: ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

Santiago, Dec 10 (EFE).- Latin America is on course to reduce hunger by half ahead of the target date established in the Millennium Development Goals, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said Wednesday.

The FAO’s 2014 report on food and nutritional security in Latin America and the Caribbean, released in Santiago, says the region has reduced the proportion of the population living with hunger from 15.3 percent in 1990-91 to 6.1 percent currently.

“Both at regional and at country level, the achievements are undeniable,” FAO regional representative Raul Benitez said in a statement.

“Latin America and the Caribbean has become a true global example in the fight against hunger and its experience is being closely followed by the international community”, he said, adding that if the downward trend continues, the current generation could become the last in the region to suffer from hunger.

Hunger eradication in the region has advanced as a result of a new and broader view of food and nutrition security, the report said.

“Countries have developed various policy instruments to address social problems in the short term and produce structural changes that deliver permanent solutions in the long term”, Benitez said.

Despite all the progress, 37 million people in the region continue to go hungry, the report said.

Hunger is more pervasive in the Caribbean, where 7.5 million people lack sufficient food, a slight improvement from 8.1 million in 1990-92.

“The region cannot feel comfortable with progress achieved in reducing hunger as long as an important portion of the population in some sub-regions and countries still suffer hunger,” the report said.

Key steps include the adoption of comprehensive policies and strategies to guarantee food and nutrition safety and a strengthening of family farms.

FAO also urges more efforts to fight poverty in rural areas and the establishment of better trade channels both within and between countries.

To continue advancing, countries in the region should strengthen economic integration, improve the monitoring and evaluation of public policies and retain food security as an aim of development efforts, FAO said.