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In September, world leaders met in New York City to discuss progress on the Millennium Development Goals they set ten years ago. Five years remain to meet eight goals to reduce hunger, poverty and disease and expand education.United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened a three-day summit meeting of one hundred forty presidents and prime ministers. Mr. Ban called for renewed efforts to meet the goals, saying there is much more to do. He said the economic crisis "cannot be an excuse" for limiting development efforts. 

President Obama spoke September twenty-second, a day before world leaders opened this year's debate at the United Nations General Assembly. A U.N. report says the world had more than one billion undernourished people last year. That followed the food crisis of two thousand seven and eight. This year, improved economic conditions are expected to reduce the number of hungry people for the first time in fifteen years. The number is predicted to drop by almost one hundred million to nine hundred twenty-five million. Jacques Diouf, head of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, says that is still "unacceptably high." He says the expected decrease in world hunger is mainly the result of better access to food as the global economy recovers and food prices remain below their highest level of two thousand eight. 

But wheat prices rose after Russia halted grain exports in August because of a severe drought. That ban is now extended until next year's harvest. In Mozambique, thirteen people died in recent riots over higher prices for bread, electricity and water. The cost of bread rose by thirty percent after the government ended price supports. After the protests the government said it would halt the price increases. Officials from FAO member countries met in Rome to discuss current supply and demand for grains and rice. 

A top FAO official recently said on the agency's website that a new food crisis appears unlikely. Hafez Ghanem said there is no cause to worry, unless there is another "shock to supply." He gave examples like more bad weather or government policies that shake the market. The U.N. says two-thirds of the world's undernourished people live in seven countries. These are India, China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia. For VOA Special English I'm Alex Villarreal. 

(Adapted from a radio program broadcast 21Sept2010)

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