The Food and Agricultural Organizations of the United Nations (FAO) has released a new report which places the number of people suffering from malnourishment at 936 million, an increase of 40 million since last year. The Rome-based organisation blamed the rising price of food, saying that while the price of cereals had fallen by nearly half since peaking earlier in the year, they were still substantially higher than in the past. The FAO food-price index, a measure of the global cost of food staples, increased by 28 per cent between October 2006 and October 2008. The report also warned that increasing prices of inputs such as land, seed and fertilizer could exacerbate food shortages and increase the number of hungry people in the world. 

According to FAO figures, 60 per cent of the world’s hungry population live in just seven countries: India, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia. While Asia accounts for two thirds of the worlds’ hungry population, sub-Saharan Africa registered the highest rate of malnutrition, affecting one in three people.

According to FAO assistant director-general Hafez Ghanem, a total of $30 billion per year could put the world back on track to reach the 1996 World Food Summit target of less than 400 million hungry by 2015.