New York, NY (BBN)- Rising food prices have pushed 75 million more people into the ranks of the world’s famished, and threaten efforts to realize the goal of halving the number of those in hunger by 2015, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Thursday.

According to new figures released by the agency ahead of next week’s General Assembly high-level event on the global anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the number of people suffering from hunger is now roughly 925 million, a UN press statement said.

Contributing to this growth is soaring food, fuel and fertilizer prices, FAO said. Food prices rose 52 per cent between 2007 and 2008, and fertilizer prices have nearly doubled over the past year. The hardest hit have been the poorest, the landless and female-headed households.

The FAO stressed the need for action on two fronts – making food accessible to the most vulnerable, and helping small producers raise their output and earn more.

In December 2007 the agency launched its Initiative on Soaring Food Prices to help vulnerable countries boost food supplies and improve access to food. Measures include the distribution of seeds, fertilizer, animal feed and other farming tools and supplies to smallholder farmers.

BBN/SI/SI/AD-19September08-3:56 AM