• Short Summary

    World attention has traditionally been focussed ont the food shortages in Asia and Africa. Little?

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    World attention has traditionally been focussed ont the food shortages in Asia and Africa. Little has been mentioned of the problems in Latin America.

    Mexico, for one, is having severe food problems -- only thirty per cent of its population of 54 million are properly fed; the rest are either underfed or starving. In fact, up to a third of them are starving.

    This problem is expected to be topmost on the mind of the Mexican president, Luis Echeverria, when he addresses the World Food Conference in Rome on Monday (11 November). He intends to devote a good deal of time talking on the food problem of Latin America.

    At home, President Echeverria has continued to try to improve the lot of poor farmers since he took office four years ago. His Government spent U.S. $1,000 million (GBP 400 million pounds sterling) on agriculture.

    He has ordered the setting up of a chain of co-operative stores selling desert products, such as seeds and honey, to the farmers at cut prices.

    He is also trying to introduce meat into their diet of "tortillas" (Mexican maize bread) by encouraging them to breed rabbits.

    Recently, he spent five days touring Northern Mexico to assess the situation and work out what can be done to increase food production.

    Mexico's problem is twofold -- lack of arable land with half of the country covered by desert and a shortage of capital to modernise farming.

    The problem of funds may be solved in years to come as Mexico is expected to increase its export of oil following bonanza discoveries of oil reserves in the Tabasco and Chiapas states.

    The Government is hoping to export five million barrels by the end of this year and five times that amount by the end of next year.

    But in the immediate future, the Government has an unenviable task. It has to feed, educate and clothe the half of its population who are either children or teenagers.

    It is no wonder that President Echeverria is reported to be the only President to Work 20 hours a day.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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