The number of hungry people in Asia and the Pacific rose by more than 60 million in 2009 to 642 million, Jacques Diouf, director general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, said in a release issued from New York.
"The sheer magnitude of food insecurity is the result of the low priority that has been given to agriculture in economic development policies," Diouf said in a video message to an investment forum in Manila.
Agriculture accounts for 11 percent of the gross domestic product of Asia-Pacific's developing countries and more than half of total employment. The region is home to about two-thirds of the world's 1 billion malnourished people
Diouf said he was encouraged that agri-investment trends were moving in the right direction.
"In view of the critical dependence of this region's people on agriculture for their food security, it is encouraging to note that the long-standing neglect of agriculture is finally being reversed," Diouf said.