Today's food crisis could worsen dramatically as decades of declining investment in agriculture have constrained the ability of the world's poorest people to cope with climatic and economic shocks, according to a new report released by international agency Oxfam International. The report, 'Investing in Poor Farmers Pays: Rethinking How to Invest in Agriculture', outlines the ramifications of a 75 per cent drop in developing country agriculture aid over the last few decades, fundamentally weakening this vital sector. The report also reveals that two-thirds of the world's rural poor have been overlooked by what little investments have been made. More � and more wise investment � is needed, the agency said. "Investment in developing country agriculture has fallen out of fashion over the last few decades, but it is a crucial part of the long-term solution to the food, financial and climate crises," said Oxfam report author Emily Alpert, noting that over one billion people around the world are now hungry. Oxfam called on rich world leaders, particularly those meeting at G8 Summit in Italy this month, to push agricultural development assistance back to at least 1980-levels of around $20 billion from the paltry $5 billion currently invested. The report notes that some rich countries have of course not neglected their own farmers. In 2007 alone, EU agricultural spending was $130 billion and in the US $41 billion. "A substantial increase in long-term agriculture investments is loose change compared to ongoing investments in rich countries or the trillions of dollars spent globally this year on the financial bail-out," said Emily Alpert. "Strengthening the agricultural sectors of developing countries is a crucial part of the long-term solution to the world's food, financial and climate crises." "Faltering public investment in agriculture over the last two decades was undoubtedly an underlying cause of poor people's vulnerability to the food crisis," said Alpert. "We cannot continue to chase hunger-related disasters. We need to deal with the underlying causes of hunger, vulnerability and poverty." The report urged donors, national governments and private sector investors to invest more and more wisely in developing country agriculture, targeting investments towards people, particularly women, to encourage and support social and knowledge capital and enabling them to adopt environmentally sustainable farming methods. "Women are key to food security," Emily Alpert said. "Investing equitably in women's needs and building their capacity to productively engage in agriculture must be at the forefront of any solution to improve agricultural growth and reduce poverty."


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