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Global farm ministers call for higher, diverse food production

Source: Reuters - Sat, 18 Jan 2014 20:30 GMT
Author: Reuters
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A worker throws rice through the air to remove dust at an agriculture product marketing committee yard at Sanand in the western Indian state of Gujarat, Jan. 7, 2014. REUTERS/Amit Dave
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HAMBURG, Jan 18 (Reuters) - A meeting of agriculture ministers from 69 countries on Saturday called for higher farm productivity coupled with cultivation of diverse crop types to help beat world hunger.

Global farming needs to maintain a balance between diversity and high output while avoiding monoculture of single crops, said a statement from Germany’s Agriculture Ministry after the meeting in Berlin of the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture.

The Berlin meeting called for genetic databanks to be set up to prevent the loss of traditional types of food crops as newly developed seeds replace old varieties.

German agriculture minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said improving food output volumes is not enough to conquer world hunger.

"Preserving agricultural diversity is not a luxury; it is a matter of survival," Friedrich said in a statement. "Plant varieties, once lost, cannot be recovered. We must therefore conserve our genetic resources worldwide on a permanent basis and make better use of them."

Malnutrition caused by an unbalanced diet is also a serious global problem, he said.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that there are still 840 million people suffering from hunger worldwide, Friedrich said.

But a further two billion people are seriously compromised in their development by malnutrition, he said.

(Reporting by Michael Hogan; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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