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Urging renewed battle against hunger, Annan calls for 'green revolution' in Africa

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United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged increased global partnership across geographic and ideological borders to fight hunger and called for a green revolution in Africa to enable the continent to move towards self-sufficiency in food.
Addressing the 25th anniversary session in Rome of the governing council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Secretary-General noted that IFAD's creation was a new type of partnership - between the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and industrialized countries, between developing and developed countries - for the shared goal of eradicating poverty and hunger.

"Partnership continues to be the key for IFAD's success," Mr. Annan said, adding that its mission went beyond alleviating short-term food crises. "That means pursuing structural changes in rural areas to empower the rural poor and increase their resilience.

"It means ensuring that investments for social progress are matched by investments and policies that increase rural productivity. It means addressing the impact of HIV/AIDS on rural communities, especially in Africa."

The Secretary-General noted that in times of famine, AIDS is depriving countries of their capacity to resist by weakening those mechanisms that enable populations to fight back - in particular the coping mechanisms provided by women. "That means we must combine food assistance and new approaches to farming with treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS," he stressed. "It means developing new agricultural techniques appropriate to a depleted workforce."

Pointing out that three-quarters of the world's poor still live in rural areas, the Secretary-General said, "We must address the fact that for them, the rapid march of globalization internationally, and liberalization domestically, currently creates more risks than opportunities." He urged working together to help them reach the quality and standards required, and to ensure that trade policies and intellectual property rights allow poor producers a sustainable position in the new system.

"It will require us to work towards a green revolution in Africa's agricultural sector, so that Africa may move towards the self-sufficiency that we have seen achieved elsewhere," he said.