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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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UN coordinator to speak on world hunger, health

To raise awareness of and reduce international conflict, the Texas A&M Conflict and Development Center will host Ken Davies, global coordinator of the U.N. World Food Programme’s Purchase for Progress initiative. His visit will feature lectures regarding the P4P initiative, food security and HIV in Asia and Africa by Davies and his wife, Dr. Margrethe Juncker.
Ed Price, the Howard G. Buffett chair on Conflict and Development, said both lectures further the purpose of the Conflict and Development Center by addressing world hunger and disease, both of which result from and fuel international conflict.
“The World Food Programme seeks to solve hunger, and hunger is part of the bigger picture of conflict. Hunger poverty and conflict go together,” Price said. “Poverty causes hunger, hunger causes conflict, conflict results in disease and poverty. All of the phenomena are very closely related.”
Davies’ lecture will discuss the United Nation’s program to provide food to the most food insecure parts of the world
The Purchase for Progress initiative was started by the World Food Programme and attempts to circumvent the problems caused by solely giving food to developing countries by purchasing food produced by these farmers and providing the food to the local community.
Price said a major problem faced by the World Food Programme was that farmers didn’t want to sell their produce to them.
“An interesting observation that began to be clear is that even though there are farmers producing food in these countries, they were unwilling to sell it to the World Food Programme, because the prices were too low, even though the World Food Program tried to buy the food at world market prices, what we would consider a fair market price,” Price said. “The farmers in these poor countries couldn’t afford to sell it. They said their cost of production was far above what the world food price was.”
This issue prompted the analysis of farmer’s production costs in the countries where The World Food Programme was attempting to buy produce. Texas A&M conducted this study in conjunction with P4P, and Price said the study revealed that the increased production costs stemmed from antiquated technology.
“Beginning three years ago we went to three countries – Sierra Lion, Liberia and the southern Sudan – to analyze the cost of production of food by farmers and find out why they couldn’t sell it,” Price said. “Sure enough, we found that farmers cost of production was very high, mainly because farmer’s level of technology was very low. They were using technology that required enormous amounts of labor. In effect their cost of production was far above the world market price.”
Juncker’s lecture will highlight her work with people with HIV in poor African and Asian communities and will include a documentary detailing the life of an HIV-positive widow at Reach Out Mbuya Parish HIV/AIDS Initiative.
“These events are open to everybody,” said Melanie Balinas, Conflict and Development’s communications manager. “While Dr. Juncker’s lecture will take place in the school of rural public health, there’s also a lot of general interest to be found in the international aspect in her work with developing communities.”
Sophomore biochemistry major Hyunjin Lee said as HIV is a serious global issue, people should be willing to learn as much as they can about new methods of assisting HIV-positive individuals.
“People in poverty are much more like to be affected by HIV/AIDS and although it seems obvious, awareness of this issue as well as preventative actions need to be increased,” Lee said. “I also think the P4P’s effort to lessen world hunger without hurting the local economy is an interesting way of doing things.”
Davies’ lecture will take place in room 200 of the AGLS Building at 11:30 a.m. Thursday and Juncker’s lecture will start at noon in room 111 of the School of Rural Public Health. Both events are open to the public and will be available via live streaming on the ConDev Lecture Series Google Hangouts and later on Youtube.

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