Rome, Italy (BBN) – Agricultural production must be raised to end the global food crisis, which has driven more than 75 million additional people into hunger and poverty, the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) told the Italian Parliament on Wednesday.

Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the Rome-based UN agency, warned a joint parliamentary committee hearing that prices are likely to remain high for several years, even though bumper cereal harvests are expected this year, according to a UN press statement.

“We are facing a challenge of enormous proportions,” Mr. Diouf said. “We must mobilize $30 billion a year in order to double food production so as to feed a world population of nine billion in 2050.”

The Director-General noted that the proposed spending figure is modest when compared with the amount already given in agricultural subsidies by members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) – estimated at $376 billion in 2006.

He urged the international community to unite and ensure that the ranks of the malnourished – about 850 million people even before the current crisis began – receive immediate support.

BBN/SI/SI/AD-18September08-12:46 PM