Kuwait has contributed $100 million (Dh367m) to a fund it has created to provide staple foods for the needy in Islamic countries, the country’s leader said on Tuesday.
The fund will also finance efforts to increase crop productivity across the Muslim world, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah told the opening of the fourth World Islamic Economic Forum in Kuwait City.
“The state of Kuwait announces it is making the first contribution of $100 million to this fund and calls on states, organisations, regional and international development funds to support this initiative,” he told the audience, which included leaders of several Muslim nations.
The World Bank estimates that food prices have risen by 83 per cent in three years, sparking violent protests in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.
The global food crisis has a number of causes, including climate change, long spells of drought, changing consumption patterns in major developing countries and the planting of crops for biofuel.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday in Bern, Switzerland, that the organisation plans to establish a top-level task force to tackle the crisis.
Back at the economic forum in Kuwait, Jordan’s King Abdullah II bemoaned that the gross domestic product of all Muslim nations was below that of France.
“We have all the assets needed to change this reality,” he said, stressing that Muslim countries have to address the shortage of skilled manpower. He said half of Muslims who go abroad to study don’t come home.
Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, said Muslim countries have “long neglected scientific education” and were not doing enough to encourage women to join the work force.