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UN Officials describe Africa as Most Food-Insecure Continent



The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization says Africa has more food security problems than any other continent. Representatives of more than 50 countries gathered in Tunisia in March for the FAO's 28th yearly meeting on Africa. The conference ended with a renewed promise of support for food security and continuing development.

The FAO says Africa has enjoyed strong economic growth in recent years. But it says the continent continues to suffer from low agricultural productivity, low pay in rural areas and high rates of malnutrition. But it says conditions in some areas have improved, partly because of increased production of basic crops.

The UN agency says farmers are growing better kinds of bananas in eastern and central Africa. It says farmers are planting maize that produces more crops. Farmers are also growing more cotton, teas and flowers. But the FAO warns all of that is not enough for the growing population.

The FAO says agricultural production in African countries has risen less than one percent a year compared to two percent in other developing countries. Bukar Tijani is the agency's assistant director-general. He says the FAO wants to increase investment in small farms, many of which are controlled by women. And he wants to get more people interested in farming.

Mr. Tijani says young people must understand that farming is big business, not just a tradition. He says the FAO and its members should help African countries create a dependable, solid agricultural system. He says this means young people must become farmers.