Pretoria - Fresh from his official visit to Nigeria, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe will on Saturday depart for Rome where he is expected to participate in the World Food Summit.
The visit directly corresponds to South African foreign policy objectives of creating a better world for all by eradicating poverty and promoting food security particularly on the African continent.
"South Africa's support for the World Food Summit is informed by its desire to improve and strengthen the international multilateral system in its efforts to find a global solution to an international problem of food insecurity, that not only affects Africa, but also South Africa's poor, both in rural and urban areas," said the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.
South Africa's participation highlights a critical reality that food security should be addressed within the context of a global partnership, while recognising the obligation of the international community to assist developing countries to build their capacity to deal with the crisis.
Critical to the support by developed countries would be implementation of commitments already made during previous international conferences to address the scourge of food insecurity.
These include include, among others, consideration of measures to eradicate hunger by 2025, the establishment of a coherent and effective system of global governance of world food security and efforts to mobilise US$ 30 billion per year for public and private sector investments in rural infrastructure to enhance food production.
In its contribution to the summit, South Africa is expected to call for measures to strengthen the international resolve, by agreeing to implement commitments already made in previous meetings.
Of particular importance is the commitment by G8 countries at L'Aquila to mobilise US$20 billion for food security and agricultural development. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has appealed during 2008 for US$1.7 billion to support the urgent activities under its initiative on soaring food prices.
An estimated 1.2 billion people globally are said to be severely affected by the food crisis with the majority in developing countries.
In South Africa alone, 2.2 million households are regarded as food insecure and vulnerable. It is estimated that this group utilizes more than 60 percent of their income on purchasing food.
The summit is expected to adopt an Outcome Document, emphasising the world's collective commitment to fight hunger and poverty.
Motlanthe is also expected to hold discussions with the Director General of the Food and Agricultural Organisation, Dr Jacques Diouf.
The Deputy President will be accompanied by Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson and senior government officials.