Hunger in the news

A daily selection of news reports from the world's media dealing with hunger and responses to it.
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Hunger in the news
20 April 2009

The economics of feeding 1.3 billion people

Tian Lanying has given up growing wheat. For most of her 60 years, Tian has raised wheat on a small plot of land in Henan province and sold it to the State at a fixed price. This year, she will plant corn and vegetables instead. The reason? "Wheat does not make much money," she said. Tian's decision is a small piece in a very large puzzle for China, as it seeks to provide food for 1.3 billion people using limited natural resources. For the past decade, the nation has produced 95 percent of its own grain, but urbanization, climate change, and smuggling, among other things, make that goal increasingly difficult to achieve.
China Daily
Hunger in the news
20 April 2009

Mozambique: World Food Programme to buy agricultural products in Nampula

Grain sales in the current agricultural season in Nampula province have been secured following the World Food Programme (WFP) showing interest in buying it, according to a report in newspaper Notícias. The paper added that the United Nations Agency also promised to provide technical and financial assistance to producers after the harvest in building improved warehouses and grain barns, in an effort to ensure the quality of cereals up to their consumption. Over the next few days an WFP mission is expected to arrive in Nampula from its central offices in Italy, to sign a long term agreement with Ykuru, the company that sells agricultural products in the northern province.
Macau Hub
Hunger in the news
20 April 2009

Canadians pursue pirates on high seas

The Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg helped foil an attack by Somali pirates on a Norwegian oil tanker, and briefly detained seven gunmen after hunting them down under cover of darkness, NATO officials said yesterday. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, speaking from the Summit of the Americas in the Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, was quick to congratulate the ship's crew "for the tremendous work they have been doing, the tremendous achievements in the Gulf of Aden." [...] Mr. Harper said Canada has been working for some time off the Horn of Africa, in particular to assist United Nations World Food Programme shipments that are vulnerable to piracy. "We obviously act within our legal authorities and within our capacities, and in this case, as you know, we did briefly detain pirates and disarm them," he said. On Saturday, Dutch commandos freed 20 Yemeni hostages and also briefly detained seven pirates who had forced the Yemenis to sail a "mother ship" attacking vessels in the Gulf of Aden.
National Post (Canada) / Reuters
Hunger in the news
20 April 2009

Ship fights off attack; Pirates free food aid ship

Somali pirates attacked a Maltese flagged-ship before dawn Monday with rocket-propelled grenades, but the ship escaped unharmed, a NATO spokesman said. And in a rare case of good news, Somali pirates released a Lebanese-owned cargo ship after only a few days after they found out it was headed to pick up food aid for hungry Somalis. [...] U.N. World Food Program spokesman Peter Smerdon said pirates released the Lebanese-owned MV Sea Horse on Friday. He had no more details and it was not known if a ransom was paid. The Togo-flagged ship was hijacked April 14 with 19 crew as it headed to Mumbai, India, to pick up over 7,300 tons of WFP food destined for Somalia. Somali clan elder Abdisalan Khalif Ahmed, speaking to The Associated Press from the Somali pirate haven of Harardhere, said gunmen released the ship after they found out it was supposed to pick up food for their own countrymen. [...] The WFP is feeding 3.5 million Somalis this year, about half the country's people. That requires shipping 43,000 tons of food every month, some 90 percent of which is sent by sea. Flying in food aid is too expensive, and roads in the lawless country are plagued by bandits.
Washington Post / AP
Hunger in the news
20 April 2009

'Paid-off' pirates release aid ship

SOMALI pirates have released a Togo-flagged cargo ship seized last week, a UN aid agency said today, and pirate sources said a ransom was paid. Sea gangs have continued to hijack commercial vessels on the strategic Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean earning millions of dollars in ransoms despite the presence of foreign navies off the coast of Somalia. "We hear from the operator that it was released," said Peter Smerdon, spokesman for the UN World Food Programme (WFP). The MV Sea Horse was on its way to pick up food for the world body when it was hijacked, but it was not under UN charter.
The Australian / Reuters
Hunger in the news
20 April 2009

Aid groups face tough battle against Somali pirates

Millions of people could go hungry as Somali pirates stage increasingly bold attacks on aid ships off the Horn of Africa, the World Food Programme has warned. Experts say there is little aid groups can do to reduce the risk in the short term. But they argue that renewed international attention on Somalia could ease the humanitarian crisis there if it addresses the root causes of why so many young men resort to hijacking ships for a living. [...] "If ships are going to be hit as they are heading to Mombasa, we could see in the coming months millions of people going hungry if food assistance is delayed for extended periods," WFP spokesman Peter Smerdon said. [...] This year, the U.N. food aid agency aims to feed 3.5 million people in Kenya, 3.5 million in Somalia and 970,000 in the Karamoja region of northeastern Uganda, where drought and high food prices have brought widespread hunger. It relies on Mombasa as a key entry point for food supplies for eastern and central Africa. In 2008, more than half a million tonnes of food arrived there on 200 ships. The Maersk Alabama's crew managed to fight off the pirates and sail to Mombasa as planned. Smerdon said the cargo's safe arrival was vital for 315,000 Somali refugees in Kenya whose rations are already being cut because of a shortfall in funding. "You could argue that the most crucial shipping passing off the Somali coast is shipping that is carrying food aid - even if it's destined for Kenya to be repackaged to send to Somalia or other areas," said Roger Middleton, a Somalia expert at London's Chatham House think tank. "I don't think it's particularly more vulnerable than a ship carrying palm oil or spare parts for cars but obviously, if it's hijacked, the consequences for people are more severe."
Reuters Alertnet
Hunger in the news
20 April 2009

G8 farm ministers look to curb food protectionism

Several farm ministers from the world's most developed nations called on Sunday for an end to protectionism in agriculture, saying the best way to food security lay in better incentives for farmers. Debate at the first meeting of farm ministers from G8 and G5 states has shifted towards options for improving food security and ways to raise output. But food protectionism, as exercised by both rich and poor countries in the form of export bans and import duties, has also been a subject of debate. International organisations such as the World Food Programme have called for self-restraint in curbing exports, criticising export bans imposed by countries hit by rising prices which it says are impeding efforts to get food to the world's neediest.
Euro Investor / Reuters
Hunger in the news
19 April 2009

Afghanistan: Shelter, water urgently needed in quake-affected Nangarhar

Hundreds of earthquake-affected people in Nangarhar Province, eastern Afghanistan, are in urgent need of shelter and drinking water, aid workers and local residents say. More food and better essential health services are also required. [...] Aid agencies have launched needs assessments in order to ensure a coordinated humanitarian response and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) conducted an oversight flight of the area to examine the extent of the damage.
Reuters AlertNet / IRIN
Hunger in the news
19 April 2009

Legal challenges to fighting pirates, says rear admiral

Rear Admiral Bob Davidson knows first hand what its like for Canadian sailors pursuing pirates in dangerous waters off Somalia. Speaking Sunday on CTV's Question Period, Davidson -- who last year commanded an international flotilla involved in anti-piracy activities -- said such operations can be frustrating, but that Canadian sailors are "extremely adept" at capturing pirates on the high seas. On Saturday, HMCS Winnipeg helped thwart an attack by Somali pirates on a Norwegian tanker in the Gulf of Aden. Canadian sailors chased down the pirates, boarded their vessel and detained them, before having to release them. [...] Some have suggested NATO forces hunt down the pirates on land. But that -- Davidson insists -- is really not an option. "They're living in their fishing villages with their families. So there would be collateral issues associated with going ashore," he said. "The other issue you've got to remember is that Somalia is a country that is in a terrible state -- famine, the World Food Program supports some 2 million people in the country, there is a war going on in the country, so trying to take action on land is problematic."
CTV
Hunger in the news
19 April 2009

NATO Pursues Pirates by Air and Sea

NATO warships and helicopters pursued Somali pirates for seven hours after they attacked a Norwegian tanker, NATO spokesmen said Sunday, and the high-speed chase only ended when warning shots were fired at the pirates' skiff. Seven pirates attempted to attack the Norwegian-flagged MV Front Ardenne late Saturday but fled after crew took evasive maneuvers and alerted warships in the area, said Portuguese Lt. Cmdr. Alexandre Santos Fernandes, aboard a warship in the Gulf of Aden, and Cmdr. Chris Davies, of NATO's maritime headquarters in England. ''How the attack was thwarted is unclear, it appears to have been the actions of the tanker,'' Davies said. Fernandes said no shots were fired at the tanker. Davies said the pirates sailed into the path of the Canadian warship Winnipeg, which was escorting a World Food Program delivery ship through the Gulf of Aden. The American ship USS Halyburton was also in the area and joined the chase.
New York Times / AP

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