More than 42 million people are suffering from hunger across Latin America and the Caribbean, the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture, FAO, said Tuesday while calling for a rapid response to curb the crisis.
"This scourge in the area is not a problem of food shortages, but a product of serious economic inequalities and deficiencies in food systems, a situation that has worsened with the advance of globalization," said FAO Field Program Officer Federica Damiani.
Damiani blamed food systems' inability to keep up with demand and uphold their primary duty, which is to deliver fresh, nutritious supplements to the entire population. Obesity has also soared across the region, she warned.
"Food systems not only marginalize producers, consumers have increasing difficulties to access adequate food, especially the poorest," she said, stressing that poverty and hunger statistics have both risen since the FAO released its last analysis.
The FAO is now calling for a rapid response to the growing crisis, which Damiani believes can only be solved with a complete overhaul of the region's food systems.
At the end of November, three United Nations agencies, based in Rome, joined the mission to eradicate hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as boost rural development and move towards Sustainable Development Goals.
The three agencies were the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, and The World Food Program, WFP, stationed in Latin America and the Caribbean.
According to the latest report from the FAO, hunger is rapidly rising in line with a 20 percent increase in rural poverty compared to urban poverty over the past 20 years. Extreme poverty in rural areas now exceeds urban poverty by 22 percent.
"We have to take these signs as an urgent wake-up call," said Julio Berdegue, FAO's regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, in November. "We must do more and have greater impact. Now is the time to join all efforts and unite under one banner.
Joaquin Lozano, director of the Latin American and Caribbean Division of IFAD, said: "Success in the fight against hunger, poverty and inequalities inevitably implies promoting the development of small producers in our region and sectors such as indigenous people and rural women, who have traditionally been excluded.
"The fulfillment of the objectives of the 2030 Agenda oblige us to be more effective and efficient than ever in our processes and interventions. In this effort, it is crucial that we continue working to achieve greater links, coordination and synergies in the strategies and programs of our three agencies in the region."
The united effort of the three agencies is designed to facilitate resources and capabilities and allow for more efficient deliveries to needy sectors, he concluded.