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02 December 2008

Malnourished Africans on increase

About 16 million more children in Africa face malnutrition in 2020 as a result of low economic growth and fewer investments in agriculture, an international study has found.

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About 16 million more children in Africa face malnutrition in 2020 as a result of low economic growth and dwindling investments in agriculture, an international study released in Mozambique said.

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) study unveiled at an agricultural conference in Maputo showed that developing countries in Asia grew at an annual average rate of 9% between 2005 and 2007 while African economies grew at 6%.

"However, with the onset of the food and financial crises, that robust growth has tapered off," IFPRI said in a statement. The study said that reduced growth, investment and productivity would lead by 2020 to increases of between 13 and 27% in the prices of basic staples such as rice, wheat and maize, which will in turn lead to the malnourishment of 16 million more children.

"The current crises are likely to have strong and long-lasting effects on emerging economies and the people most in need," said Joachim von Braun, IFPRI director general.

"Poor people spend 50 to 70% of their income on food and have little capacity to adapt as prices rise and wages for unskilled labour fail to adjust accordingly," he added. – (Sapa, December 2008)

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